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September 2021
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Rocket Scientist and Airstream

By Xiao

Today our good neighbor Rodger stopped by while he was walking his dog. He offered to check out our non-functioning furnace. The other day, when he invited us over to watch race and cooked us dinner, he learned our airstream is not heated by furnace. He was worried and offered to check it out. We were overwhelmed by the offer. He is the real rocket scientist/engineer, supervised NASA missions like Apollo before his retirement. Working on our furnace? We cannot think of it. Maybe he was just being polite. But now we know he was serious. “Sure, if you have time “, we answered with hesitance. “I will be right back, I cannot have you leave for Chicago without a working furnace”. He took the dog home.

Not even five minutes, he came back. They started to check the furnace systematically like the the scientist and engineer they are, “electrical or gas line?” Rodger went back several times for tools. Eventually he drove his jeep to our site, which has cabinets full of tools, gadgets. They decided to take the furnace out, so there they are, two scientists/engineers who played big part in space programs and physics experiments, lying there on the floor in the crowded airstream. Honestly, I could not believe my eyes. With Rodger’s experience and some brute force, they finally got the furnace out and some probably thirty year old dust.

“Now we can put it on the bench”, Rodger was excited. So the furnace was thoroughly tested on the truck bed of our “Green Monster” for the next hour or two, while I tried to collect some of those ancient dust. Campground owner Ed stopped by from time to time, offering his expertise. It was a cold day, but the temperature certainly did not damp the spirit. With couple of theories in mind, they set off to the RV store to get parts and have a board tested.

As I started to feel bad for getting Rodger spend all day working on our furnace and left his lovely and witty wife Margaret home, the men returned. They replaced couple of things, did tests again on the “bench”. They were ready for the test run. Again, the two men were on the floor, with Rodger in charge, and Ed outside to coordinate, they were reconnecting the wires, the gas line. Margaret came, so three of us stood outside waited as they get ready. First run, nothing. “Try again to clear air out of the line.” So they did, we heard spark, and Rodger announced “We have flame!” Rodger had his hand on the outside valve. He turned to me with a big smile, “put your hand here”. Warm air was blowing. “Time for celebration, where is the wine?” Rodger asked Margaret. Still feeling the excitement, he walked around and did couple of small fixes such as the propane tank valve which he noticed before. “He is always like that”, Margaret explained. Daylight was going, Rodger went home with Margaret before he gave us couple of tips and homework.

I joked with Rodger that he should sign our furnace. After all, who else has a furnace fixed by a real top notch rocket scientist?!

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