Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Broke Buddy" in Topeka, Kansas

Uh, oh . . . our supplemental braking system “Brake Buddy” just became “Broke Buddy.”  (For you non-RV’ers - this is a device that is placed in our tow car, hooks to the brake pedal, and applies proportional breaking pressure in the car.  Therefore, the car brakes with the RV instead of the 4,000-pound car pushing the RV forward at a critical time.)  I love knowing that we have a supplemental breaking system and never drive without it.  So when this baby stopped working, I was feeling a little unsettled.  Not only is it a safety issue, but it is the law in many states (click here for an interactive version of the map you see below regarding the requirement of supplemental braking systems in each state and province.)

"you know I don't have health
insurance - I couldn't get on the website"
After calling a few RV repair places, I was out of luck in the help department.  The last resort was to call the manufacturer of our Brake Buddy unit and see what assistance they might provide or guidance as to how to fix our backseat driver.  I had a pretty strong feeling that the unit was not working because of some frayed wires.  Gee, how smart of me to recognize that frayed wires would probably be the reason the machine was not getting substantial power and actually drained the car battery.  Genius!  The nice man at Brake Buddy said he could send a new wiring harness for me to install.  Uh, I don’t think so!  I really am not that handy and Betsy gets super nervous when I am rummaging through the box of tools. 

The nice Brake Buddy man asked, “Where are you headed?” 
“Kansas City,” I said
“Well, we are located about about 70 miles south of Kansas City in Emporia.  If you bring your unit in we will work on it while you wait.  Should be a quick fix.”
“Great, I will be there Monday morning.”

We figured Topeka had more to offer than Emporia and since Topeka was on our way to KC, we decided to base out of there and not burn so much diesel crossing the prairies of Kansas.  Monday morning, we loaded up Broke Buddy and Spirit and headed south to Emporia.  Sure enough, the frayed wires were the problem, and within half an hour, it was fixed for free and we were on our way back to Topeka.  Thank you nice man from Brake Buddy.

And guess what else was in Topeka . . . a Hamburger America hit!  SCORE!  Since nice Brake Buddy man fixed us so fast, we were back in Topeka for lunch at Bobo’s Drive In - a Topeka legend since 1948.

Bobo's does have inside seating but Betsy wanted the full drive in experience of eating in the car and having a car hop bring us the goods and hang them on the car window.  It just seemed right . . . and the people watching was pretty good.

The hamburger patties are coarse ground meat pressed down on the flattop so you get a thin patty with a crispy outside.   Personally, I thought the burger was just o.k., it was a little dry and under-seasoned.

Another attraction in Topeka that I wanted to see was the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Site.  This is a very powerful and thoughtful museum that transforms the visitor back to a day and time when racial prejudice was in the forefront of daily life.  The museum shows powerful images and videos that effectively elicits the raw emotion that was stirred by this 1954 landmark case - Brown v. Board of Education.  The case challenged an 1896 Supreme Court decision (Plessy v. Ferguson) that established the doctrine “separate but equal.”  Brown v. Board of Education reversed this age-old law when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional and ended racial segregation in America’s public schools.  While Brown v. Board of Education dealt only with education, it was a catalyst that spurred other laws ending racial segregation in other facets such as employment and transportation.

The museum is housed in Monroe Elementary School which was one of the four segregated elementary schools for African Americans in Topeka.  Walking into the school takes you back to a time when your hair was in pig-tails (or a tight crew cut for you guys) and your lunch was packed in a brown paper sack.  The school auditorium is the starting point of your visit and houses a 30-minute movie that explores history of racism and segregation.  The classrooms are filled with interactive exhibits and emotion-stirring multi-media displays.  

The exhibit is quite moving - as you walk down the hall videos filled with racial slurs and hatred play on both sides of you.

This museum provokes thought and is definitely one that stirs your emotion and is well worth the visit if you are in Topeka.


  1. Good to hear that you received such great service on your Brake Buddy. Ours in eight years old and is now in it's fifth tow vehicle, and although I too have had to repair some wires, it still works like new. The museum review was wonderful - we'll put that on our list (but not the hamburger place). Thanks again for a great post.

  2. Nice to see there are still companies that stand behind their products. Now that your BB is fixed, you have your peace of mind back. It's not good when your tow car breaks loose and passes you on the highway! :cO

  3. Well, at least now you know. These temporary fixes are more than fine, but maybe you need to have the whole RV looked into, to see and spot errors and damages that may break down and escalate, so you can get everything repaired in one go. Hope that it's fine now.

    Prairie City RV


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