Before I left home on July 13th I wrote a short post saying I am ready for a new adventure and expedition. Perhaps I shouldn’t have written it quite that way, although I have a few times in the past and I really meant it when I wrote it. I know that God always watches out for me and continues to do so even when I am on the trips in my camper. Every year when I am on the road in my camper van it seems something happens and a repair is needed, and so, including this time, I am in a location where it can be taken care of and I have always been in safe locations. Well, this time it happened again, and not very long into my trip.
Before I left home I had four new tires put on Molly my camper van, had everything checked by my mechanic the best they were able to check. Charlie a friend from the gym I go to helped me and he put silicone on all of the places we could find that were causing water leaks in my camper. There has been a lot of rain so far this trip, and thankfully, so far, no water leaks inside which is a HUGE BLESSING. I was always able to get it dry right away but still, it was not something I wanted to happen.
I stopped at my friend Cindy’s house near Jacksonville, Florida, for a few days, then I headed west towards my next destination Longview, Texas, to volunteer at the Great Texas Balloon Race, this would be my third year volunteering and crewing there. I was really looking forward to it.
Before leaving Cindy’s house, and the night I stopped near Pensacola, I looked at my maps trying to decide which route I wanted to take to get to Interstate 20 which would take me into Shreveport, Louisiana, then Longview, Texas. I try to take different roads each time so I see different sites and scenery. I pretty much decided to take highway 49 from near Mobile, Alabama. It seemed the shortest distance and not a route I had taken in previous years. I stopped at a rest area in the Florida panhandle and saw a truck that had a city in Florida near me and I went and asked him about the route that would be best. He was going back to Florida and said he just came down highway 49 from Texas. I also stopped at the Alabama Welcome Center and one of the volunteers there said that he takes highway 49 when he goes to Texas. That confirmed the route I should take.
So, I headed that way, I had to take a different road until I could get to highway 49. The scenery was really beautiful, rolling hills, green grass and lots of tall trees, and thankfully not much traffic. A few areas with construction which seems to be everywhere around the country.
I stopped for gas before before I left I-10, and after I had driven about 150 miles into Alabama and then into Mississippi on highway 49, I saw a gas stations with prices of $1.99 and 9/10s a gallon. I have no idea who came up with a fraction of a penny for gas. So, I decided to stop for gas even though I knew I had enough until I got to I-10.
Surprise!!! After filling the tank, I started the engine and it seemed to rev loudly, I stepped on the gas and it hesitated to go. It went a few yards until I came to a stop sign, then when I stepped on the gas to go again, the van would not move forward, I put it in reverse, and it would not go backward. Strange I thought, it was working fine this entire trip, including when I turned it off. I turned off the engine, put my flashers on, and started it again, same thing, it would not move. Finally, I was able to get to the traffic light. A truck was behind me and didn’t leave much space even though my flashers were on and he could see I was having vehicle problems. Anyway, when the light changed, I stepped on the gas and again, no movement. Finally, after another light change I was just barely able to get across the road into a parking lot and it just so happened there was an Auto Zone store there. I went in and asked if they had a machine to see if there was a code on the vehicles computer telling what the problem might be. There was not a code saying anything was wrong. I suspected the transmission. Once before in my 1972 Ford when it had a transmission problem it would not go into gear easily, not just stopping like this one did.
The Auto Zone worker called a few local mechanics to see if anyone would look at my van, and after several calls we found one that would. I had AAA tow me and the camper van a couple of miles to the mechanics shop. They agreed that it was the transmission and that it would take several days to get one. They wanted to put a transmission in that was from a salvaged van that is the same as mine. I called my friend in Texas that is a mechanic to get his input and he called me back saying not to put one in from a salvaged vehicle because there is no way to know what condition it is in and it could go out in a few hundred miles, or last years. He recommended to use a remanufactured one even though it would be a couple of thousand dollars more. I thought that sounded like a good idea, my camper has 98,888 miles and I had been thinking about trading it for a newer model that has more room in it and travel more months a year since mom died a few months ago and I don’t need to be home to help her any longer. After lots of thought and prayer, I decided to keep Molly, my camper, because I am used to her, I know what has been done mechanically and I take really good care of her. I am used to the way she drives, and she fits into a regular parking spot, and really has everything I need, other than floor space. I am used to sleeping on a bed only 25 inches wide and 6 feet long.
Walkers Inc the mechanic shop I was towed to had a level spot under a metal roof where they parked me and plugged me into electricity. I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and they were busy with other vehicles then and on Friday and said on Monday they would look at what to do with my transmission. I stayed in their lot all weekend and it was fine, I read books and relaxed. I called another one of my friends that is a mechanic in South Carolina and explained what happened and he agreed that I should only have a remanufactured transmission installed, not a salvage one. He said that he uses Jasper transmissions and has had good luck with them. Monday morning I told the manager at Walkers that I want a remanufactured one rather than a salvage one and the older man that owns the repair place refused to install anything other than a salvage one. I won’t go into all of that discussion, he was inflexible and not kind about it. Told me to get towed somewhere else in that case. His manager looked on the internet and found a mechanic that is a Jasper dealer about 40 miles south of where we were and he called him and told him my situation. To make another long story short, I got towed there and they found a spot next to their building to park me and plug me into electric. I paid extra to get the transmission there in three days rather than however long it would have taken otherwise.
Jasper transmissions has to build the transmission, then ship it to this mechanic which is B & B Automotive Services Inc, 1018 Highway 42, Sumrall, Mississippi, phone 601-758-4600. Brandy the owner of this repair shop and Ashley who works for him are both very nice and I am grateful that they let me stay here until the transmission comes. It saved me having to get somewhere and be towed again when the engine arrives. If you are in the area and need a good mechanic get in touch with B & B Auto.
Every trip something happens, sometimes mechanical and sometimes other things like the pump for water in my faucets, or the air conditioner, or the back step would not go up, etc. Always, I have been in a place where I am safe and could get the repairs made. Last October I wrote about when I got to Waco and my van was fine when I turned it off at night, and in the morning it made noise and was the engine air conditioner compressor. I was close to my friend that is a mechanic and got it fixed there. I always pray every day that we all get where we are going safely. I ask God that if something happens to let it be how He wants it to happen and I hope that when or if it does that I am on level ground not a steep incline so my refrigerator doesn’t get messed up, it needs to be level. That’s what happened this time. It didn’t break when I was on long stretches of road where there was nothing for many miles, or on the hills that I drove through, or when I was leaving a rest area in the middle of nowhere. It happened where I was able to find help and get to a repair shop fairly easily, even though it was raining the times I had to be hooked to a tow truck.
Across the street from B & B Automotive there is a grocery store, and also a beauty parlor, and a few other small stores. I am able to get food if I need any, I have plenty but I went and got a hot meal in their deli section. It’s not Publix, but it’s a nice store. I really need my hair washed, it’s been over a week since I washed it, so I am going to the beauty parlor for a wash today. Also, after three more days of rain, the sun is out today!!!
Another blessing, in 2012 when I was in Waco, my friend Shahar who is the mechanic said I should have my transmission fluid serviced and use BG fluid and conditioner, he said there is a warranty and if my transmission goes bad there would be a chance to get some money towards the repair if I get it changed according to their warranty terms. So, I had the fluids changed with approximately 68,000 miles, then last summer when I was there and there were 27,000 more miles on the transmission, I had it changed again because the warranty said it had to be changed under 30,000 miles. B&B and Shahar’s shop Homestead Maintenance worked with the BG representatives providing the necessary documents and I just found out that $1,000 will be paid by BG towards my repair. What a huge blessing, it was about $2,000 more to have a remanufactured transmission vs a salvage one. The Jasper transmission that is being installed has a 3 year 100,000 mile warranty. I doubt I will drive 100,000 miles in three years, more like 18,000 miles. I only go on a 5 month trip usually every year.
Well, due to this hiccup in my trip, where thankfully I am safe and able to get the repairs done properly, I did not get to Longview in time to help them prepare the pilot packets, or help with pilot registration, and I am going to miss the pilot party and first day of the balloon competition. I am about 400 miles away. Depending on what time the transmission comes on Thursday and when they can get it installed which should take about 5 or 6 hours, I may not be able to leave until Friday. Which means I would miss the entire event. I hope to at least be able to get there to help sometime on Saturday and Sunday morning. If not, oh well, it’s out of my control. God has a reason that I was not supposed to be there. My friend Jean used to tell me all the time, almost every day, no matter what the circumstance… “It couldn’t have happened any other way.”
At least I am safe, I have money to get the repairs made, and to have new tires put on before I left home, I have food to eat, a safe place to stay, etc. And wifi to update my website and let you know what’s been happening the past week or so since I left home.
My next stop after Longview, if I make it there, will be Fort Worth area to see a few friends and then on to Waco to see my friends there for a few weeks, then I plan to arrive in Albuquerque the end of August until the middle of October for Balloon Fiesta helping before and during the event. After that I have no plans, I will decide closer to that time.
I have been feeling well and have minimal pain, and some days almost none. That is a HUGE BLESSING too. Especially when I think back to previous years and even earlier this year when the pain was so intense. I know taking exercise classes and yoga classes really helped me and I am trying while I am away to at least to do some stretching and yoga positions when I can even though it’s not two hours a day like when I was home and went to the gym.
Well, that’s about it for now. I just typed this post and did not reread it, so please forgive spelling, etc. I also will try to keep my travel map updated.