Up with the sun has been the norm for us this trip. Whether because of the constantly changing time zones or just our excitement and eagerness for what’s next, we have been up early every day.
In spite of not getting to bed until 4, we were up by 7 am having breakfast and trying to figure out what we were doing about the tire. Shahin had been on the Wanderlodge Owner’s group (WOG) while we were sitting on the side of the highway. A man named Kiki had responded with offers of help almost instantly when he posted that we were broken down in Albuquerque. Our friend Randy Dupree also saw the post and called Shahin in the morning. He said he knew someone in town who knew a lot about Wanderlodges and would give him a call. So as we were sitting there eating breakfast, this truck pulls up next to us. Carl and Linda Threet spent the better part of the day getting us to a mechanic, helping us find a park for the night, taking Stacey to pick up the wheel we needed, giving lots of good advice, sharing a meal and stories, and generally treating us like old friends. Once again we felt like we were part of a community and it felt good!
The mechanic we went to was a bit of a curmudgeon though. He really gave us what for, saying that he would have told us NOT to buy it if he had done the pre-purchase inspection. He said it was in terrible shape, that it was leaking a ton of oil all over the place, that all our air bags were bad and if they blew we would be dead in the water!
For a few minutes our hearts sunk and we thought we had just thrown our money away. All of our dreams for our big trip were quickly flying out the window as we contemplated what to do next.
Fortunately, Shahin had the foresight to say, “look, we need to think about this over the weekend and we will get back to you.” By the time we got out of there and talked to Randy, and Steve, and Carl, and posted on the WOG and got feedback from there, we were relatively sure that the mechanic had overstated the severity of the problems, that we had not thrown our money away, and that we could safely travel the rest of the way home. We knew about the oil leaks and the amount of oil we have been losing has not been excessive. These kind of deisel engines tend to be “very oily” anyway. We can add oil as we lose it for now. Yes, the oil pan gasket needs to get changed, but it is not an emergency and nothing bad is going to happen because of it.
As for the air bags, yes, they are old and need to be replaced, but again, not an emergency. Steve told us that theoretically one could blow, but he’d never actually seen one that wasn’t dry rotted on the outside and unless they were leaking he wouldn’t change them.
So the next morning we went to buy a new tire and get it installed and back on the road. Taking the wheel off they discovered that the roadside technician had installed the nuts backward. They are tapered on the inside to help seat the wheel correctly, but he had put the tapered part on the outside. Anyway, now we have the old spare mounted on a steel rim back in the basement as a spare.
We were back on the road once again. We still hear funny noises and we’re a little paranoid at this point, but I think we are starting to get used to it and learn that it’s all part of the journey.