The Great Fridge Debacle (part 1)

So, lets recap. My fridge started leaking ammonia on the 24th, it stopped working on the 26th. I arrived at Little House Customs on the 28th for an appointment I made months ago to get some other non-essential work done. I ask Larry while I’m there if he can do anything about the fridge. He tells me to go to the Casita factory two hours away near Waco, TX, as they can do it cheaper than he can.

Hill country savannah

Hill country savannah

Love me some small-town-Texas courthouses. This specimin was spotted in Brady.

Love me some small-town-Texas courthouses. This specimen was spotted in Brady.

I wait a week from the 28th until the 4th while the factory is closed for the holidays, moochdocking in a friend’s driveway to save on camping fees. The night of the 3rd (Sunday) I spend at a Walmart parking lot in Ennis close by. Bright and early at 7:55 am I’m in the factory door, where everyone is scurrying around to put the cubicles and desks back together after the new carpet install that happened over the holidays. I wait for about 40 minutes while the service guy gets his stuff straightened out and his computer plugged in.

He tells me the bad news: they’re fully booked for this week in appointments, the earliest they can get me in is next Monday the 11th, and it would probably be at least one night in a motel, possibly two. I make the appointment as it hurts nothing, then get to work.

At a McDonalds in Corsicana, the next town south of the factory, I buy breakfast and spend two hours scouring the internet. To wait another week in TX and miss two of the gatherings I was planning to attend in Quartzsite entirely (I’m already going to be late for one) but be assured of having someone who knows how to replace the fridge work on it. Or to head for Arizona now and wait to get the fridge fixed after the gatherings and hope I find a good shop.

My lunch spot today (the 5th), pulled off the road near Eldorado, TX. There were sheep!

My lunch spot today (the 5th), pulled off the road near Eldorado, TX. There were sheep!

I scour the Casita forums and put my own post up, I post on Facebook for gatherings taking place in Quartzsite on the chance that someone knows a good repair person. I e-mail Larry to get his advice. I text a couple I worked with at Amazon who are based out of Phoenix and might know a good repair place.

Then it’s just wait for the information to come in. I spend the night of the 4th at the Walmart in Corsicana, and figure I’ll make my decision bright and early on the 5th with the data I have.

My first sighting of bluffs in the distance! Never driven this way before.

My first sighting of bluffs in the distance! Never driven this way before.

Tuesday, January 5th

I’m writing this post from a (crowded!) Walmart in Fort Stockton, 487 miles west of Corsicana, so I’m guessing you can decide the conclusion I came to. I’m in contact with a reputable repair shop in Phoenix that is familiar with the special way my fridge needs to be handled (that’ll be part 2), in the meantime I’ll be sans fridge for the two Quartzsite gatherings but as I’ve already lived out of a cooler over a week now I know another two weeks won’t be a great hardship. Nice thing about it being winter: when temps are in the 30’s and 40’s ice doesn’t melt fast.

Pulled over near the junction of I67 and I10.

Pulled over near the junction of I67 and I10.

Today’s photos are from the drive out here today, starting in the hardwood forests west of Dallas to the savannah of the hill country, and near sunset into the brush heralding desert. With luck, I’ll make it to Quartzsite on the 8th in time to help a friend give a seminar. It’s good to be back on the road! Note: as much as I’m driving in a day, I’m going to be slow responding to comments and e-mails, thanks for your patience.

Driving into the sunset near

Driving into the sunset near Fort Stockton

The scene at Walmart tonight. There are 5 RVs in this pic, at least 12 parked here so far.

The scene at Walmart tonight. There are 5 RVs in this pic, at least 12 parked here so far.

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  1. Linda Sand on January 7, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    About eggs: no they don’t have to be refrigerated. Unless they already have been. If you bought them from a store’s cooler section then they need to be refrigerated.

    • Becky on January 10, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      Interesting Linda, didn’t know about that!

  2. Denny Donaldson on January 7, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Hi Becky,

    Ed notified me about your refer problem. I believe you will be able to have it addressed once you get to Q. If our El Niño winter hasn’t chased everyone to dryer locations you will be amazed by the number of RVers. That number of rigs attract a good group of service techs so ask around for referrals and you should be able to get it fixed. If you run into problems give me a call.

    • Becky on January 10, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you so much Denny! Yes I drove into Q today and the number of RVers and services is staggering. I shouldn’t have problems finding help, thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  3. Ed Brownfield on January 6, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Becky, sorry for all of your problems but I marvel at your attitude, calmness and problem solving abilities. For what it’s worth I think that you made a good decision to move on vs waiting a week in TX. Of course no one including you will know for sure until the final refrigerator chapter is written……does the refrigerator get fixed properly or not? My bet (and hope) is that it will. We spend a lot of time in Phoenix, the people there are kind and most of the repair shops that I have been to are honest and reliable. It is also “ground zero” for RV’s the only problem is that it is their busiest season with lots of “snow birds” in town for the winter. But I’ll bet knowing the people in Phoenix that they will work you in and your problem will be resolved……that’s my hope. Life on the road doesn’t always go in a straight line; of course driving I – 10 through West Texas you probably think that it does haha. I’ve driven that road many times its straight as an arrow. Now that you’re in AZ you are seeing fabulous scenery; we love it! We have an Airstream trailer and I am going to give you a person’s name at Desert Autoplex, the Airstream dealership (they handle other makes too) just incase you need to talk to someone whom I know that you can trust. He is just a resource incase you need one. His name is Denny Donaldson, he is the manager of Desert Autoplex, in Mesa (Phoenix suburb). He is honest and he is an avid RV’er himself. If you would like me to call him on your behalf I will. I know Denny from dealing with him and like and trust him. His email address is his phone number is (888) 891-7024 or (480) 964-2277. Be careful driving around Phoenix the people there drive like maniacs and the freeways scare me to death. Safe travels enjoy Q, going to the Big Show in Q is on my bucket list.

    • Becky on January 10, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks for the kind words and mentioning that person Ed. There’s no need to call on my behalf, I’ll file his info away and keep him in mind if need arises. 🙂

      I am enjoying Quartzsite and I do love this kind of desert, it has trees and saguaro and the mountains are icing on the cake. It’s funny you should mention bad drivers, my friends who live near Phoenix always say Arizona has the craziest drivers of anywhere they’ve been, haha.

  4. Jodee Gravel on January 6, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Safe travels as you head into this most recent rain storm. Glad you decided to head west, there are probably a dozen places In Q and Phoenix who can handle your frig repair. There are so many RVers here this time of year that the service industry for us is huge.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..New Years in the DesertMy Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Got scattered brief rain showers driving today Jodee, but I heard it rained pretty good in Q. Hopefully it’ll dry out a little before I drive so I’m not fighting ruts and puddles getting in there.

  5. John Forsyth on January 6, 2016 at 7:08 pm


    If you are at all handy with tools. All that needs to be done is the cooling unit needs to replaced in your fridge. is a Amish rebuilder of cooling units. They have good instructions on how to replace the cooling unit in most RV fridges.

    Also there are many YouTube videos showing how to replace cooling units. The cooling unit is the main component in an RV fridge.

    Hope this helps you a little.

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      I am so not handy with tools John, haha. I have spoken with someone else who bought a cooling unit from that site and gave it a glowing review. I may have the shop replace just the cooling unit, not decided yet and price will pay a factor…

      Thanks for sharing though, this’ll help others who are more handy than I!

  6. Jan on January 6, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I am in Scottsdale if you have to to meet up for a late lunch. I work until 12:30 pm M-F, just PM me and we will see what we can do. BTW, I love following your informative blog and sorry for the refrain. not working.
    Jan in Scottsdale AZ.

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Heya Jan, thanks for the offer! Not sure where Scottsdale is and I’m in a bit of a hurry right now to make it to Quartzsite by the 8th in time to help a friend give a seminar and I’ll be there about 2 weeks for various gatherings. But after that is over I plan on hanging out in Arizona and So Cal for the rest of the winter so I’ll keep you in mind. 🙂

  7. Pamelab on January 6, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Hi, Becky-
    Some of that landscape looks familiar – like the drive between Houston and Lubbock. I have never been to Q, but hope to experience it next year.
    You are an inspiration to others, with your insight and positive attitude. We have no control over things outside ourselves, but we do have control of how we react.
    Have an adventure and happy trails. Looking forward to reading more of your blog. Thank you for your very nice blog, Becky.
    Pamelab in Houston

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks Pamela! Yeah that landscape would look familiar to you. 🙂

      Looking forward to sharing Q with you all…

  8. chuck on January 6, 2016 at 11:34 am

    also dry ice will keep stuff cold 10 times as much as ice……
    if you can find any…..Kroger is the only place I know that has it

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks Chuck.

    • Holly on January 9, 2016 at 7:19 am

      Chuck, I am preparing for Q and am thinking of using dry ice, it sounds like a very good idea, why is it so hard to find I wonder?
      Becky, is there a reason you don’t use it?
      I’m headed to Rice to get a furnace installed then on to Q for the Casita rally, will you be there then, would like to meet you.

      • Becky on January 10, 2016 at 6:50 pm

        Don’t use what Holly? Dry Ice? I just haven’t seen it at the places I’ve been stopping and as cold as it is this time of year regular ice is lasting quite well.

        If you’re talking about the Fiberglass RV rally at Dome Rock in February, yes I’m planning to be there. 🙂

  9. Cletus on January 6, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Being fridgeless one winter I made the switch from beer to red wine. Not enough room in the cooler for beer because of the groceries for the two of us. Plenty of room outside in the bushes for bottles of wine. Never looked back. Keep on Keepin’ on.

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Haha, funny story Cletus. I’m almost a non-drinker so that’s not a problem for me. 😉

  10. Wayne Wirs on January 6, 2016 at 10:19 am

    I’ve been living without a refigerator now for over 8 months.

    Not a big deal once you get the hang of it: Eggs, canned foods, dried foods, … (see the link).

    Heading to the RTR myself.
    Wayne Wirs recently posted..Four Past LivesMy Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Yeah Wayne I have several vandwelling friends without fridges and I’ve gotten tips. I’ve done pretty well so far for the week an a half I’ve been without, thanks for sharing.

  11. Reine in Plano on January 6, 2016 at 9:59 am

    If you were in Ft. Stockton last night only 800 miles to go – and by now you’re probably at least 100 or more miles down the road! You should make it by Thursday night without a problem and be present for the seminar on the 8th. Unfortunately, Google Maps shows a bit of construction on the way but that’s life.

    We tent and van camped for years without a fridge. You just have to plan differently when using an ice chest.

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      Going to stop and visit friends near Phoenix the night of the 7th and arrive before noon on the 8th. Going to be close for that seminar, we’ll see how it goes. 🙂 I have had some construction but it hasn’t been too bad so far!

  12. Sherry in MT on January 6, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Wow, always an adventure when repairs are in the picture! Hope by now all is fixed and running properly and you are where YOU want to be! 🙂
    Sherry in MT recently posted..Snowshoe FinallyMy Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Well, won’t be fixed for a couple weeks Sherry but I’m going to enjoy Quartzsite and can live out of a cooler until then. 🙂

  13. Harrison on January 6, 2016 at 7:18 am

    When we were in your boat for a new refrigerator down the road, we cut the top off of a one gallon milk jug and filled it with ice to keep the refrigerator cold. Worked great without using a cooler.

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Neat idea Harrison! That would save on space and I have milk jugs around for water, I’ll have to give that a shot.

  14. Dawn from Camano Island on January 6, 2016 at 7:10 am

    Good call, Becky. We had to sit in Lake Havasu City for 3 days waiting for parts for our vents. 3 days was ok in an okay place. But a week? Yeah. No. The folks in Q will be very happy to see you, even if you’ve had a bit of a delay. Safe travels.

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks Dawn! I was really not looking forward to another week near Dallas.

  15. Jim Schmechel on January 6, 2016 at 6:54 am

    I’m so happy you are going to Quartzsite! I really wanted to go, but now I will be able to “see” it through your eyes 🙂 I love “looking” through your eyes! Why must life be so difficult sometimes, for our beloved blogger? I’m sure things will start going your way soon.

    I guess the good part for us, as readers, is we get to see how you deal with adversity on the road. I admire your cheerful attitude, no matter what your circumstances. You really are a very special person. The nomads are lucky to have you in Quartzsite with them!
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..who is God?My Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Really Jim I think I’m quite fortunate and I don’t think I’ve had a very difficult time of things. So far in my 3+ years of traveling, not once has something broke that actually required me to stop and fix it right then. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it!

      I hope you get your chance to see Q in person someday and in the meantime I’ll do my best reporting from the front lines. 😉

  16. Terri on January 6, 2016 at 5:46 am

    I love how you faced this problem head on. I know that I would have probably freaked out at first, but then made myself sit and think like you did. Problems happen, right? It’s how we deal with them that matters.

    Glad to hear you have found a shop in Phoenix that is going to help – in the future, they can hopefully stay as another resource for you too, if you’re ever back in that area again. God, I hope you will have a lot of fun at Quartzsite! I drove through there years ago, not knowing what it was, and was amazed at how huge the gathering is!

    You’re giving a seminar? I think that’s great. You’re definitely establishing (have established) a great name for yourself in the RVing community.
    Terri recently posted..(re)discovering myselfMy Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Yeah Terri even I didn’t have the answer right away when the service guy told me it’d have to be the 11th. Took me about 15 minutes in the parking lot at Casita to stop and really Think about what to do. You get better at it (problem solving) the more times you have to do it at least. 🙂

      I’m looking forward to Q for sure, not long now! Whether I’ll make the seminar in time is still up for debate, it’s going to be close…

  17. John Hussey on January 6, 2016 at 5:10 am

    Deja Vu!
    I also spent the night at that Walmart, last year, returning from Alaska with my 16′ SDS Casita. I remember it well.

    You can survive quite nicely without any fridge at all, especially in the winter, and even without a cooler. I do so frequently. Do you really need all of those items you store in fridge/cooler? Consider each item and decide. You can store items like fresh veggies, needing cooler temps, in the shower, which is always cooler than the Casita’s inside. Eggs don’t need the fridge at all. They are good for 30 days outside it. (When you buy them, look for longest “best use by” date, and even that is not an “expiration” date.) Adapt, overcome, improvise. You can do it!

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks John! I’ve got Wisconsin cheese (gift from my parents), ketchup, bbq sauce, butter, and… one or two other things I can’t remember right now, haha. There isn’t much.

      I counted before I went to bed, 17 RVs as of 9:30 pm! When I peeked outside the Casita around 8 about half were gone already.

    • Diane on January 6, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      We stay at Wal-Mart’s often but had a bad experience at one in Lafayette Louisiana the other night. We were the only camper there and we were awakened around 11pm by someone attempting to rob us. Going forward, we will only stay at a Wal-Mart with lots of other campers. Be careful!

      • Becky on January 10, 2016 at 6:47 pm

        I will Diane. Sorry to hear about your experience, hopefully they didn’t get anything?

  18. chuck on January 6, 2016 at 4:54 am

    your just gaining experience when stuff like this happens…..
    worst part of driving in west texas is staying awake but
    other than that its an easy drive…..

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Yeah Chuck it has been an easy drive! Made it into Arizona today, seemed like I blinked and New Mexico was past.

  19. Frank on January 5, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Oh Mann… I hate it when stuff like that happens…

    It’s been “Cool in the ‘Q’ ” around here so working out of a cooler won’t be too bad. I’ve had ice in my little cooler for days now…

    Looking forward to ice cream.. heheh, fun..
    Hang in there…

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      As of tonight (6th) I’ve still got ice from the 3rd from my moochdocking host. And it’s not like I have a fancy cooler. Guess living out of a cooler wouldn’t be bad in winter.

  20. Dave Burdick on January 5, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    That drive makes one feel, “Will I ever get out of Texas?” We typically drive I-10 across and it never gets easy to do. Hope it all works out with your fridge…looks like you made a good decision.
    Dave Burdick recently posted..Happy New YearMy Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Yeah Dave I always forget how BIG Texas is! It’s a great state, lot of variety, but it always takes longer to get through than I’m expecting. Thanks, part 2 (and hopefully the conclusion!) on the fridge issue will be after my gatherings are over, mid month.

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