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RV There Yet? or CIT Happens!


As a 10 year gift to my business manager Dona, we had planned a two week trip to Italy. Wow. And then COVID hit and everything changed. Now things are getting back to normal and until everything opens up in Europe, we are taking a intermediary Winabego vacation. We rented a Winabego for Dona and Mike and planed a RV vacation through Indiana and Michigan.

This is a particularly special because, Dona does not camp. Don’t worry I say. We have the Pup which will make this trip into a dream.

Then, two weeks before we were to go, we got a call from Cruise America. The rental place near St. Louis just closed and we are out of luck. After a lot of haggling we agreed to drive 6 hours to pick up the Winabego near Chicago, a hour and a half from our first campsite at Van Buren State Park. Disaster averted.

So we packed up the Pup, stuffed all of Dona and Mike‘s (her husband) stuff in the back of the Durango and off the four of us went to pick up the Cruise America Winabego.

We were riding along pulling the Pup behind the Durango when, half way to Chicago, a guy pulls up next to us on the highway saying we have a problem with our trailer. We exited some small off ramp and, sure enough, we had broken the passenger side leaf spring with the tire running hard against the wheel well.

Vicki suggests we dump the fresh water holding tank (25 gallons 200 pounds) and I dump out the drinking water 8 gallons. Now with the reduced weight, the wheel is just barely hitting the wheel well. We drive on keeping a slow smooth pace. At his point it starts to rain. The rain is good as it will cool the tire and reduce the risk of the tire overheating causing a blowout.


Vicki is still driving north towards Chicago toward the rental Winabego.

I am burning the airwaves learning as much as possible about leaf springs and the possibility of getting it fixed. I was an auto mechanic as a kid so I know a fair amount about what the are and how they work. They are basically four bands of plate steel that act as a shock absorber under the axle. Ours was broken allowing the Pup to fall onto the wheel.

The people at Great Escape RV were great in that they called all around to RV places. Unfortunately, the word from every authorized Forest River Dealer was “we can’t look at it for 2 weeks”

So now it is raining hard and I start calling truck repair places and a guy says call CIT Truck repair in Normal Illonois.

They answer on the first ring and tell us they can start on it in three days and once they get the parts will have it done in two hours. They’re amazing as they talk to Forest River and work everything out, including the full warranty.

We transfer all our clothes and camping things out of the disabled Pup cram them into the Durango and drive the hour to the Winabego.

The Cruise America guy looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Rail thin, long wired hair and a dead head tee shirt. The office is tiny, a total mess. It is dark as a cave with three cars running over stacks of old newspapers and time yellowed receipts.

We get the Winabego and fill it with Dona and Mike’s things.

Now all we have to do is buy a tent, pad to sleep on and , using our quilts we took from the Pup, relax in Van Buren State Park.

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