by Superintendent Luke Francois

A summer pastime for our family is camping. My wife and I started as tent campers in 1997. Through the years, a tent turned into a pop-up, and a pop-up into a travel trailer, as our family grew to include four children and a golden retriever.

This past summer our camping destination was Glacier National Park in the mountains of Montana. One month before our departure the kids and I decided on a whim to camp at Fort McCoy in Sparta, WI before taking our summer trip to Glacier. This last-minute decision to camp was the best decision of the season.

Late at night on our way to Fort McCoy, with only ten miles to go, the truck started to sputter. Twenty minutes later our family coasted into the campground. The next day I learned that a sensor was possibly bad and may need to be replaced. The attempt to make it home ended poorly with a stalled truck pulling the camper in the middle of a round-a-bout just outside of Baraboo on a 95-degree day. Six hours later a sensor was replaced, and the family was on our way home. Two days later pulling the camper to storage the truck stalled again.

Over the next two weeks, I learned that the engine ran fine without a camper, but every time the engine was under load (pulling the camper) it stalled. After multiple trips to area dealerships, coupled with towing charges, I learned the sensor was not the problem and the only fix was to rebuild the motor or replace it. As our family was leaving in one week for Montana, we decided instead to change to a different previously owned vehicle under warranty. The trip to Montana and back again was without issue.

As I reflect, how fortunate it was that our family took a last-minute vacation to Fort McCoy the month prior. Had we not, we surely would have been stranded with a stalled vehicle in multiple other states, paying unexpected towing expenses, incurring increased dealership charges for rush fixes, and missing a significant portion of our destination.

Peace of mind is worth something.