No, we didn’t end up in the Mighty Mississippi…but it was close! Let’s back up a couple of hours…
When we stopped for gas back in Mississippi, we ran into another family who had broken down in their RV. Obviously, we have huge compassion for this now! They were a French family traveling from South America to Alaska. Thankfully, they already had help coming, but Joe did try. They told us about another camping app called “iOverlander.” It’s another user-based app where people post different places to park and camp overnight, with reviews, prices, etc.
After deciding to stop in New Orleans, I downloaded the app and looked for somewhere to stay in or near the French Quarter, so we could walk around the next morning. There are actually a few RV parks around the Quarter, much to our surprise…but they are really EXPENSIVE!! And most of the offices were already closed, by the time we made this decision. However, a couple of people had listed an overnight parking lot at a Welcome Center, right inside the Quarter. They said it was well lit and they didn’t have any issues…and it was only two quick turns off of Route 10. At that late in the game, it was our only option.
Thank you, LORD, for directing us to change our plan…because we would NOT have made it past two turns off Route 10, and definitely not all the way to Joey’s in Houma. As we started to descend down the bridge, Joe said to me quietly, “Something’s wrong.” We had a nice day, for sure, but we were certainly still on edge after everything we’d been through with Eleanor the two days before.
“What? What do you mean?” I asked. Joe showed me that he was pushing the brake pedal all the way to the floor and we were barely slowing down.
We were three minutes and two turns from the Welcome Center parking lot. Joe was able to get the RV to stop at the first light before the first turn…but not easily. We just looked at each other with big eyes. Needless to say, no one talked for five minutes. Joe was awesome. He took it really slow…we made it through the second turn…and there was the Welcome Center, beaming like a lighthouse! The parking lot was fairly empty, well lit, and affordable (as described) and we coasted into a space and put it in park.
Thank. You. Jesus.
After getting the boys settled in bed, I went out to join Joe to investigate. We’ve been in some crazy situations over the last 14 years…but this was certainly one of the craziest. It was around 9:30 pm and Joe was already laying underneath the RV with flashlights and tools. We have joked with people, along the way, that Joe has half of our garage in the back storage compartment of Eleanor…but it’s true! And I’m thankful!
He checked every tire and had me go in the driver’s seat and pump the brakes. When he was under the back passenger side, he told me to pump. When I did, I immediately heard him yell, “WHOA!!!!” Brake fluid was GUSHING out of the wheel!!
Thankfully, Grumpa is always on standby. He and Joe talked for awhile. Joe found three RV repair shops right in New Orleans, but none opened until 9:00 am the next morning. We decided to try and get some sleep and regroup in the morning. Joe made himself a special bedside table for sleeping in a parking lot, broken down, in the French Quarter.
Since you’re reading this, you know we all survived. And hey, if we had to be broken down, I’m glad we were in a city that we know and LOVE. I’ve traveled to New Orleans many times with my family. And when Joe and I got married, he joined right in on the tradition…and fell in the love with the city too. We couldn’t WAIT to pass it on to the boys.
After we had breakfast and walked around a little, Joe called one of the RV repair shops to tell them about Eleanor. They said they could take her, so we hustled 10 blocks back to the parking lot. Joe and Grumpa came up with another one of their famous contraptions to get us enough brake power to drive the 8 or so miles to the shop. This way, we didn’t have to get another expensive tow truck. It worked! And when we got there, the technician was impressed! 😉
It was another family run business and one of the owners, Michelle, greeted us with a warm welcome. She just oozes with motherly love. Not only was she so helpful on the RV end, but she also cared for us and our many concerns. We got Eleanor situated with them and then we had a LOT of time to kill.
Guys, you may not believe this…but we have never used Uber before. We are used to traveling places where we can walk or ride bikes everywhere. We’ve just never needed it. But now – we needed it. Joe quickly downloaded the app, and within minutes, our very first Raab Four Uber driver arrived!
It was a great experience and we were back in the Quarter in about 15 minutes. All we cared about was finding some live music for the boys. As you can imagine, there are very limited places there to take kids, but we remembered the outdoor restaurants by the French Market. It was perfect! Before leaving for our trip, we all agreed to try a new food we’ve never had before, as part of our adventure! We didn’t expect to knock out so many things at once. But we all tried fried crawfish…and it was gooooooooood.
We were really on a blitz tour…there was so much we wanted the boys to experience, but we also didn’t know how much time we had. They. Were. Troopers. We were haulin’ on foot, back and forth, through the French Quarter to get them to all of our favorite spots. We couldn’t pass up our favorite desert EVER: made-to-order double-chocolate bread pudding!
After finishing desert, we checked in with Michelle to see how it was going. The parts had arrived and they had begun the work. Yay! We consulted our map and looked for something to do indoors for a little while…if you know what I mean. Amazingly, another museum included with our membership from Stacey was right there in the French Quarter: the Louisiana Children’s Museum! Awesome!! So we got in one last hike over to there, but then enjoyed several hours playing…and in the A/C, no less!
The museum was closing at 5:00. Joe called Michelle again and she said they were very close to finishing – even though the repair was more extensive than they thought – but they also closed at 5:00. She offered to ask the technician if he would stay late to work on it and finish up so we could get on the road. Just amazing. And he agreed! God bless him! We walked around a little more and then took our 2nd Uber back to the shop. Even though we were behind schedule, we were excited to jump in Eleanor and head to Joey’s place.
When we got out of the car, Michelle met us out front of the shop with a concerned look on her face. She was so sweet to the boys and told them they could get back in the RV to play. Then she told Joe and I that after they finished the work, they took it for a short test drive. By the time they got back, the FRONT calipers had locked up and those brakes were smoking!! [big eye emoji] Obviously, it was not safe to drive it like that. They were all devastated right along with us. Sweet Michelle offered to let us sleep in the RV in their shop’s parking lot and then they could work on it again, first thing the next morning. We were blown away by their compassion and generosity.
By this time, it was around 6:30 pm and we got our 3rd Uber to take us to a nearby shopping center with some great shops and places to eat. We hung out there awhile, charged our phones, posted to the blog from Barnes & Noble, and got some dinner. In 41 years, I have never used Uber…then we took our 4th Uber in ONE DAY back to the RV shop! 😉
We all piled back inside the RV and Michelle came out to greet us again. She offered to let us hook up our electricity to the shop and made sure to see if we needed anything else for the night. We got to talk to her for quite awhile and she is just a dear. They have been through some REALLY rough times over the course of their marriage and careers. But we were so inspired because they have not let it turn them cold towards the world. They are so full of love and kindness and hospitality. And they went above and beyond to help us in our dire situation. We are SO thankful.
It was a much more relaxing night in the RV, as opposed to the other parking lot. 😉 It had been a GREAT day, under the circumstances, but we were WIPED!
In the morning, Michelle came out to greet us once again and told us about a canal with a drawbridge that was about a 1/2 mile walk from the shop. It sounded so cool and like a great place to take the boys while we waited for the repairs. God bless Joe, the shop technician, who was back to work early again to get us on the road with Eleanor. We walked over to the canal with the boys and it was awesome! AND it *forced* us to relax!
There were benches, plenty of shade, and lots of boats to watch, coming and going. Just beautiful! We threw the football and frisbee around a little while and got to take a lot of pictures. It was such a blessing.
After two hours or so, we decided to walk back to a little restaurant around the corner from the shop for an early lunch. Almost immediately, we saw Eleanor on the road coming towards us!! Joe, the technician, came to pick us up!!!! [crying emojis] It was the sweetest and most surprising thing!!! We got back to the shop and settled up with them.
HUGE SHOUT OUT to Stepper RV for all their love and support! I don’t know what we would have done without them! They made this crisis so much easier and enjoyable to endure. And Sweet Michelle, with her HUGE heart, offered just the kind of motherly love that these weary souls needed.
After a long goodbye, we piled in the RV and FINALLY set out for Houma to see Joey… ❤ All said and done, we ended up with new brakes and calipers on every wheel! It was extensive work and another challenging experience for us, but we definitely feel much safer now!
| “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35 |