The big move from California to Texas, was an adventure to say the least.

I had just picked up my 03 Dodge 1/2 ton and made the non stop run from Texas back to California. With only a week to get ready for the return trip back to Texas. I spent 2 days installing a 5th wheel hitch into the Dodge, (of course the 03 is the ONLY year that dodge recommends NOT putting a 5th wheel hitch into, due to a solid box frame, no predrilled mounting holes and the way the saddle fuel tank sits). But HA !!!

I got the hitch rails bolted in place and secured to the frame. I hook the 5th wheel up and load it down with everything,,, even stuff I didnt need,,, sitting me at a nice weight of a little over 9,000 lbs,

Thank goodness for 1500 lb air suspension. The trip started off slow, having to crawl through the New Cuyama mountain range from the coast heading to Bakersfield. (This mountain range takes you on the back side of the Grapevine, the gateway from L.A to Bakersfield).

I roll through Bakersfield and catch rt 22 south to connect with the Tehachipi pass, which takes onto rt 40 to head East. If your not familiar with Tahachipi pass,, its a white knuckle, puckering type of highway that winds you up high elevations down to lower elevations just to climb back up. Downgrades that can bring a shudder to newbie highway travelers. That went smooth,, trying to maintain a steady speed of approx 50 mph,,,, Yes,, the trailer was heavy,, and yes beyond safely overloaded, (as if there is a thing as being safe AND overloaded). I don't recommend this in any shape or form,,, Don't even think about doing this, seriously,,,,, don't.

The trip was basically uneventfull except for the few trucker and speed demons who passed me blasting their horns and holding their hand up displaying their I.Q. I had planned to drop down from the 40 down to the 10 via Prescott Arizona. I took the exit and traffic came to a dead stop, Something happened up the road a ways and the C/B chatter it was to be closed down for quite awhile. Now mind you, I hate driving during daylight hours and prefer to travel at night into the wee hours of the morning. I manuver the truck and trailer and cut across a median and head back up to hwy 40 and planned on dropping down a bit farther up the hwy.. I find am off beaten path to drop south and realize this was NOT the way I should have gone. narrow 2 lane road that hasnt been maintained sinse like 1940 if that. I did however found a downgrade that should have been designed for a roller coaster ride.

Just before desending, they put up a very nice large sign,, use low gear for next 6 miles,, 12% grade. Alrighty then,,,, on we go,,, cruising down slow it seemed to be going pretty good till the RPM's started climbing, and the engine having a very hard time keeping the speed down,  I apply the brakes a little to slow it down a bit,,, even with truck and trailer brakes,, it was a challenge,,,, After gently tapping on the brakes off and on,, my brake buzzer comes on,, overheated brakes.. This IS NOT A GOOD THING. It a now or never moment,,, smoke the brakes clean off the truck and trailer, or white knuckle it with an included pucker factor of 97.2% ?   Pucker and knuckles it is,, I grip the steering wheel tight,,and tell myself,,, this has a possibility of going sideways and not ending well. (Im envisioning the Blues brothers,,, We have a full tank of gas,, half pack of smokes and wearing sunglasses,,lets do this). I put the gear selector in drive and just let the truck and trailer go full b**s into the wind downhill.

45,,50,55,60,65,70,75, (knuckles turning white,, gripping the wheel tighter). 80,,,Starting to taste underwear,, 82,,83,,84,,85..

That feeling this is SOOOO not going to end well.  then I notice, the speedo, dropping, 80,75,70, 60,50,,,, whew!!!!!!!!! Im back along a level stretch and we are slowing down,, I notice a pull off picnic spot, and pull off into it. I bring the truck and trailer to a stop and *peel my butt off the seat and step out. Fingers still tingling and are starting to get the blood flow going back to them. I walk around to see what broke,or blew off. everything is still intact. Tires on the truck and the trailer are a tad warmer then normal, and I sit for 1/2 hr to 45 minutes to let them cool off. This was also a good time for my Angel to catch up with me,, cuz they do say, dont go faster then your angel can fly,,, well,, I kinda left my angel in the dust a couple miles back, In a normal situation, I would have taken a tire off the trailer to see how bad I smoked the brakes, but being roughly 3:00 a/m in the middle of no where,, I chose not to. I finally get back onto the small 2 lane country po dunk road, still heading south to I-10. I come around a wide curve to encounter a double set of RR tracks. Bam Bam Bam,, thud,,, The trailer lurches to one side,, not a little but alot,,, Yup,, something broke,,, and not a little broke but a lot broke. I cripple to a middle of nowhere kinda of a truck stop cafe, and park in the dirt,gravel parking area.I get out and the passenger side of the trailer is leaning way over and the wheels are up under the fenders hitting the inner fender wells. Not having very much lighting in the parking area, I resorted to the light of 2 flashlights.

Yup.. shes broke broke,, broke a multi leaf spring, clean in half.

The frame is sitting down on top of the axle. I climb back out and decide to grab some coffee in the cafe and figure something out.

I use the phone looking online for a trailer place to try and get a replacement spring. Nothing closer then 200 miles. I sulk a little bit, racking the brain for ideas. I leave the cafe and head back out to the trailer and crawl under it again to try and figure out my major dilema.

After laying under there for 20 or so minutes, I crawl out and standing at the back of the truck and notice a 4x4 block. ding ding ding,,, lightbulb above the head moment, I open up the tool chest in the back of the truck and grab my duct tape and, baling wire. I grab the bottle jack and lift the frame off the axle and wedge that 4x4 block between the frame and axle. I take wire and duct tape and secured it in place.

It did not look pretty,, trust me,,, it was about as back woods hillbilly redneck as one could get. I lower the jack and Im amazed that the trailer is now sitting level, who needs suspension?. LOL  I did figure out Im in a town called Show Low. So I have about 800 miles to go.

Everything went great till just north of San Antonio when I take an exit to get fuel,, and halfway down the steep exit ramp there is a concrete barrier closing off the roadway... White knuckles and locked up brakes,, I skid for about 200 ft and stop withing a couple feet of the barrier. WOW,,,, That could have ended beyond bad. Who the heck Blocks a ramp with no forewarning?  I back up the several hundred feet back up to the highway and continue down the highway to another exit and I drive down it slowly.. I find a fuel stop and top the tank off. I talk with the clerk inside the station and ask about that last exit ramp. She says, Oh thats been blocked off for a few months, and several people have crashed into that barrier. They really need to put a sign up.

NO SH**.   a sign would have been nice.

Needless to say, the remander of the trip went smooth,, a little bumpy,, but smooth and made my destination and got parked.

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Comment by Dawn Michelle on January 15, 2017 at 8:05pm

Just read through this - you had me on pins and needles with you!!!!! What a great story, and am sure glad you made it home in one piece! Rick's adventure with Juno was nothing in comparison :-)



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