Today marks 2 weeks since we have been on the road. It's been a crazy adventure, for sure.
We had a delightful visit with with Merikay and Craig. When the weather cleared some, we took a drive around the area and looked at the park and the dam and all that other fun stuff.... It was cool, but at least the sun was shining. Some of the snow was melting. Not all.
I worked on a meal of chicken alfredo lasagna and also traditional lasagna for supper. Merikay baked up a loaf of basil bread! I set my festive table with my southwestern dishes and pretty tablecloth from Mexico (remember those Goofy Mary?) It was another great night of conversation, RVing stories, and fun things to see down the road.
The dogs kinda hung out under the front dash in their little doggie hideout area,
and when company went home, they came out to claim their space on the loveseat!
They are really adjusting well to this RV lifestyle.
We woke up to sunshine and warming and melting all that danged snow. My lawn chair was finally dry enough to sit in! Sitting and soaking it was very pleasant... ahhhhhhh
Merikay and Craig were busy getting loaded up and hooked up and ready to roll. They wanted to reach Tucson, AZ before the end of the day, so getting on the road by 10 am was their schedule.
Heartfelt hugs and "See Ya Laters" we called out as they rolled on west....
Now it was time for Steveio to get to work! He got down and dirty to figure out the busted brake line, and take measurements and get a good idea of what parts he would need to fabricate a new line.
With all of his notes in hand, we trooped on into town. He dropped me at Walmart for a grocery stock up session, while he hit the autoparts store with his list of items. Sadly. they didn't have what he needed!
Now here it where it turns into the GOOD NEWS!!!
The guy standing in line behind him says: "Hey, I own a truck repair shop down the highway and I can custom make that brake line for you, just bring the old one on over and we can set you up!" Wowzer!!!! After some discussion, he said it would be better if we could drive the rig right over to his shop, and he can examine it first before fabricating the new line. He even offered to let us stay in his lot overnight if we got over there too late in the day to get started on the job!
What are the odds that Steve would be standing next to one of the only truck repair places in 50 miles around who can custom make brake lines and has all the lines, fittings and tools to bend them!
We rushed back to the campground and Steve donned his overalls. (yes, he takes them along on the road just in case!) He was able to temporarily patch in a piece of line with some compression fittings to get us limped down the highway 25 miles to the truck place. We also have our Pac Brake engine exhaust brake to help stop us, but best to patch this line in the meantime and we have brakes enough to get down there. So here is my Mr. FixIt Guy laying on an old Thanksgiving table cloth as he works on patching the line.
He was done and out and bled the lines while I pumped from inside. Everything held and we were good to go.
And this is where we hit the BAD NEWS!!!
Are you sure you want to keep reading this? I am typing it out in words to be cathartic and still sniffling and weeping as I type. Bear with me....
We always do our hookup job on the Tracker to tow behind the motorhome on a towbar setup. Steve has 4 jobs on the outside of the Tracker hooking it up, and I have four jobs on the inside .... We never talk to anyone while doing it so we don't get distracted.
3. safety cables and
4. wire harness hookups.
1. key in ignition and move the wheel back and forth,
2. emergency brake off,
3. shifter in 2nd gear and
4. transaxle in NEUTRAL...
and I am SURE I had it in neutral!!!!!
Then we swap and he checks my stuff and I check his stuff.... perfect.
It has NEVER failed us before. And he swears he checked it all was fine.
Well.... we drove out of the campground and up to the main gate. I always watch the Tracker in our backup camera and make sure the wheels turn the first few corners and watch for the steering wheel to return top dead center. Fine. Good to Go.
We stopped at the main gate to obtain a credit slip from the gals that we can use at the next park. We had already paid for the night at this one and since we were leaving to get the repairs done at 3 pm and didn't think we would be back. So as we pulled up to the main gate, we heard a loud THUNK sound behind us. We were on a steep angle to park while I got out to go into the office. Hmmmmmm I told Steve I would walk around the Tracker before going into the building, all appeared fine. He said maybe it was just a rock. I went in and came back out, and we were on our way.
UNTIL...... about one mile further, heading down the road towards the interstate we heard a horrible CHATTER CHATTER CHATTER.... and tugging on our back end .... oh no.....
(we just destroyed the engine in our Tracker!)
Yes... I said that.
You heard me.
Evidently the transaxle jumped into 4 wheel drive gear or perhaps on the backwards angle we stopped at the main gate, it somehow got into gear. And we destroyed it. Trash.
I am sick over it. I feel so bad. It's my job to put that transaxle into N... and I have done it hundreds of times now. And Steve double checked it. But I still feel so bad.
(also Steve said it was my final stomp on the brake pedal as I drove the motorhome onto the leveling blocks the other day that blew the brake line! He didn't mean it and was teasing, but I take things like that to heart!)
So I cried. And cried. Not sure what we are going to do yet. It's trashed. It's only a $2,000 beater vehicle, but it was such a good little billy goat of a vehicle. We have already invested in the expensive base plate for a Tracker so we might as well remove that and everything of our own inside of it. Perhaps tomorrow Steve can place an ad on Craigslist and sell it to someone who wants to toss a new engine in it? The title is up in our safe in Wisconsin, so we would have to mail that later.
He is looking on Craigslist right now for perhaps buying another one the same, so we can just swap the baseplate over and we can keep on towing. Or we can travel without a toad vehicle and just see sights from the motorhome as we go along. It doesn't make sense to tow this one around a thousand miles and then back home another 1,500 miles. Or does it?
You know, if we do get another Tracker, from now on I am going to double triple and quadruple check that transaxle shifter!!!!!
On a positive note, we arrived safe and sound at Harold's truck repair place. Called Emergency Truck Repair right off the highway at Caballo Lake, NM. It's comforting to see that he is working on all the local folks vehicles, the county ambulance, and even the Derry Arrey Fire and Rescue vehicle. If the locals trust him with their things, we should be in for a good experience.
Harold came out and checked the line on our rig, and yes, he said that he can easily make that line. Steve suggested that perhaps he should make up the other front brake line and also one of our rears. We had already done one on a trip to Florida, so now we will be good to go if Harold can make them. The only problem is Harold can't do the labor himself to install them, he hurt his shoulder really bad... Harold thinks he tore his rotator cuff. His doc appt is tomorrow afternoon. So he said to Steve: "If I make the parts in the morning, can you do your own labor??" YESSSS !!!! That will save us in labor costs, and Steve is more than adequate at handling the installation of the new lines. We even have along a power bleeding tool device that runs off our air compressor. Whew.... that is a good thing! Silver Lining, perhaps?
So tonight we are comfortably resting in the fenced in secure lot of the Emergency Truck Repair Service of Caballo Lake, NM. I am still sniffing. But it will get better. I hope.
And I ate two big slices of Merikay's basil bread that she baked as my "comfort food" with our leftover lasagna tonight. Even the dogs got to lick the plates clean!
Tomorrow will be a better day.
It has to.