Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It Finally Ends

After what seemed to be a never-ending string of bad luck as we were headed to Joshua Tree National Park, Vol Fan and I finally were able to camp and enjoy the park.

We woke early on Sunday morning intending to head into the park for a hike and then return home.  After packing up our camping gear, we pulled out of the campground and were greeted with a horrible noise coming from the front passenger wheel area.  We slowed down and the noise stopped.  We assumed that it was a rock in the wheel and continued on.

Then the noise happened again.  This time we stopped on the side of the road to check things out.  We saw nothing and continued on our way.  The noise was very sporadic and we heard it a handful of times before we made it to the park.  We decided to go for a short hike and then start making out way home, in case there was trouble.
We did the short hike around Hidden Valley, which was a hiding place for cattle rustlers back in the day.  It is a beautiful area.  The temperature was perfect.  The sky was a vivid blue.  A perfect day for a hike.  Too bad we needed to get on the road.

As we headed back toward the town of Joshua Tree, the noise started again.  And continued.  After several quick stops for inspections and seeing nothing, we made it to The Home Depot parking lot.  I was going to drive while Vol Fan jogged along side the truck to try to get a handle on where the noise was coming from.

[Sidebar:  We should have listened to the advice from The Governor a couple of weeks ago. A sensor went out on Vol Fan's anti-lock brake system. Our friend, The Governor, said, "Don't just replace the sensor. Spend a little more and replace the entire hub assembly because something caused the sensor to fail." Did we listen? NO!!!]

Vol Fan, then, climbed under the truck.  He got a toothpick and swabbed some of the goop he was seeing.  He handed it to me and asked if it looked like metal.  And yes, it was all shiny and glittery in the sunlight.  Metal shavings from a wheel hub is NOT a good thing!  The wheel bearing was going out.  And we were in a very small town.  On a Sunday afternoon.  Car repair wasn't exactly readily available.
We decided to limp to a hotel and stay for the night.  And then the next morning, either limp to a local repair shop or begin the long limp to the Dodge dealership that was 40 miles away.  Then we remembered that we have AAA.  So we pulled into a parking lot while we called to see about getting a tow to the nearest Dodge dealership.  And guess what?  When we purchased our membership, we went the cheap route so the free tow was for a distance of 7 miles!  Not much help.
And we were back on the road, limping toward a hotel.  As we were pulling up to the Best Western, Vol Fan spotted an Advanced Auto next door and pulled in.  As it happened, they all knew a shade tree mechanic that they were sure could do the job and would not charge a crazy price.  We got his number and called him.  And then we limped to his house.  He said he would be glad to change out the wheel hub assembly for $65.  Now that's a price we were more than willing to accept!!
The more time we spent with our mechanic, the more we realized that while he was a nice guy, he (and his friend and his old lady and the other chick and the guy that stopped by to look at his brakes) obviously embraced a certain lifestyle.  One that was drug filled.
But whatever.  As long as he could fix the truck.  Right? 
He tore into the project.  And then realized Vol Fan drives a BIG truck.  He didn't have a tool big enough to remove the old hub from the axle.  So back to the store for a tool.  They didn't have the correct thing so they had to improvise.  Then it was back to the store for another tool to improvise.  And then it was back to the store for another tool to improvise.
I was really, Really, REALLY starting to get the feeling that we had taken the wrong path in this repair! 
But four hours later, he had the part replaced and we were back on the road.  And yes, we gave him more than $65 for taking away his entire Sunday afternoon.  We were ever so grateful to have the truck repaired and back on the road. 
Obviously after this experience and our experience in Utah last May, we have determined that Vol Fan's truck does not like the desert.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

What an experience, Woody... Gosh--you two really do have stories to tell... Life for you all is never boring for sure...

Glad you got it fixed--and made it back home. You will remember your camping trip to Joshua Tree forever and ever....

Write a book, Woody......

Grandma J said...

It couldn't have happened in a worse place than the desert. So glad it worked out for you guys...win big in LV!

Tammy said...

Wow, that was quite a weekend! I'm glad you made it home safely and that the repair guy was able to fix the truck problem! I just might be a good idea to take a different vehicle to the desert next time!

You should take that photo and have it put on a canvas, it's one of the most beautiful photos I've seen!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Whew! Glad it ended well! Did you get any pics of the motley crew?? =)

Anonymous said...

I Want To Come Play -- maybe not in the truck.

Mental P Mama said...

Honestly? You two are such an inspiration to me. If I am traveling and cannot find a clean bathroom, I have a conniption. You two rock!!!

Busy Bee Suz said...

As I was reading this...I was thinking: "didn't they have truck problems recently while traveling in the desert?"
So glad it worked out. Loved your description of the characters; this guy, his old lady and some chick....
you are silly.

SusanoftheBox said...

Soo... problems getting there, problems while there, and problems getting home. I am impressed with your ability to have a sense of humor after it all!