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  • J.F. Rowan

On Top, Then In The Tank!

"Bear Fence Scramble" was the name of the trail that led us to this great view. This shot captured 180 degrees of it. Wish I had a 360 degree camera to capture all of it. Looking mostly west to the Shenandoah Valley.

Really? Who leaves a campground, drives 40 miles and stays overnight at a harvest host, drives another 20 miles to stay at another, then drives back to the same campground for another shot at camping? All over a barking dog? I’ll tell ya who, we do! Maybe the dog was a higher power saying, “Hey, you shouldn’t be here right now, get outta here and do something else for a few days.” As it turned out, it was the right thing to do. We had a great time seeing more of what this great had to offer and an opportunity to meet interesting local folks. When we were ready to come back to the park, we were able to get a better spot and had a much better experience. As my mother would say, “When one door closes, another one opens.”

So, when we were all done galavanting around Harrisonburg and the surrounding areas and wineries, we returned to the Skyline drive and set up camp once again in Big Meadows Campground. Though the weather was pretty fickle, we still had a great time hiking and exploring this wonderfully natural and historic gem. There is so much history here! Another great example of how the CCC was so important at a crucial time in America's history. I’m not going to get too far into all the details, but if you’re interested in reading more about how the park was created our how the Skyline Drive came to be, click HERE!

Shenandoah National Park

Deer were everywhere. Not unusual to walk through the campground and have them bedding down in adjacent campsites during the night and eating anywhere during the day.

Our plan was to sit tight in the park for about a week, hiking and exploring the area around Big Meadows Campground. Then we would move slowly to the Columbia area in South Carolina. As it turned out, the weather forecast wasn’t very cooperative and we decided to leave after staying about 5 days. Our route was going to take us to Southeast forward Myrtle Beach where we planned on staying a few days before heading west to Columbia. But planning is one thing, execution is another.

Fuel Contamination

Diesel fuel which was drained off from the base of the filter housing while we overnighted in a campground in northern North Carolina. This was the first sample. I then re-primed the canister and took another sample. It looked the same.

Somewhere after about an hour, I saw a chance to top off with some fuel. We pulled over and I took on about 19 gallons of fuel. When I left the parking lot, I was about a mile down the road when a “Water In Fuel” message popped up on the dash and for about 2 seconds the engine ran rough. The engine smoothed out but the message did not go away. I could dismiss the message, but whenever I restarted the engine, the message would reappear. I got some great input from different people as to what to do, but ultimately, I followed the owners' manuals advice and decided to get some fuel conditioner and then pull over as soon as possible and using the drain at the bottom of the filter housing, drain off any water that accumulated. That would work in theory, if there was only a little water. It’s a bit early, but my guess is that I actually took on about a gallon of water when I filled up.

Don Bullock Chevrolet Rocky Mount, NC

Due in part to the holiday coupled with it being the weekend, the service department could not get to us until Monday. So we tucked into the back parking lot of Don Bulluck Chevrolet in Rocky Mount, NC on Saturday. We were even able to get a hike or two in while we waited.

Tiger Adventure Vehicle

Service tech taking a fuel sample to determine what exactly is in the fuel.

I’m writing this while I sit in a dealership as our fuel tank is being dropped and the entire fuel system is being flushed and sanitized. Sanitized because once water gets into a system with diesel fuel, algae and other microorganisms can grow and ultimately due to a lot of damage to many of the components in the system. If the process can not be completed before the end of the business day, we’ll spend the night at a hotel nearby. Shop rates in this area are about $100/hr. Time to remove, clean and re-install the tank, run new fuel through the system will come to about 4-5 hours. Add to that the cost of a possible nights stay in a hotel, and one has to ask, “Who is going to pay for this?”

As it turns out, I called the station owner the day we arrived at the dealership. He was very understanding and offered to pay for the entire bill. He told me that he carried insurance for situations such as these. But we’ll see. Hopefully, we will be back on the road by tomorrow. We’ll see.

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