Thursday, November 20, 2008

The trip home

We were up before it was light outside, around 5:30 AM. I fussed with the water and sewer, draining and flushing both. There is no water left in the trailer tanks or water heater, even the hose to the sewer was lifted from the slinky and drained.

We put in the slide and locked the door. We were off and it was barely 7 AM. After a quick stop at the local McDonalds, we were on the 101 headed North past Scottsdale. Rush hour traffic is never fun in these larger cities, and the Phoenix area is not exempt, as it was after 8 by the time we were free of the city and on our way towards Flagstaff.

You immediately climb as you leave the valley, and the temperature dives as you leave. In the Sedona area we saw 47 on the dash, but surely that would warm later in the day. Rounding the corner at Flagstaff, we were on the famous I 40 aka route 66. Then just as the song says, we started ticking down the towns. Flagstaff, Winslow, Gallup New Mexico.

By the time we were in Gallup, I needed a Double Stack from the local Wendy's. Loyce likes their Chili, so we stopped. As I got off the Interstate, I was following an older Chevy, and I began to smell engine oil. A burning smell, I changed the A/C to recirculate. Once we had the lunch complete, I headed for some gas, and casually switched off the recirculate. OH OH! That smell wasn't coming from the old Chevy! We had a problem!

At the gas pump I lifted to hood, to find oil all over the underside and the top of the valve cover. And there in the middle of the cover laid the oil cap completely loose and upside down in the depression where it should have been threaded in.

I pulled about a mile of toweling from the window cleaning dispenser, and began mopping up the mess. This took a while. Had Wal Mart failed to replace the filler cap, or had they left it loose and it worked its way out while we drove? We'll never know, but still, it has never come out before, so they are implicated no matter how you slice the pie.

Luckily the cap was still there, and they had given me the half of quart that was left over from the 4 1/2 quart change. So we tightened up the cap after topping off the engine. We had only lost a small amount, but leaking oil makes a big mess with only the smallest amount. Never had that happen with any of my Ford products, but then perhaps they fit in the Wal Mart mechanics hands better.

Loyce took over driving and we stopped in Albuquerque, to gas up and check the oil cap again. It was tight and had not moved since I put it back on. Wal Mart couldn't have got it on right, or this wouldn't have happened. Still the incident bugged me, that it would repeat itself.

We stopped for the night, at Tucumcari. Discussing where they would accept our dog for the overnight. We know that some super 8's and of course the old standby motel 6 will take the dogs, but 6 is such a lack luster place. We looked at both. Loyce likes the outside door to your room, since she doesn't have to haul all her stuff past the desk into a common indoor hall. Including the dog and her stuff.

So Motel 6 it became. I got a room on the back, with our car parked right outside. We were several blocks from the interstate, so no noise either. Place wasn't that bad, but it is definately no frills.

We went to the local Pizza Hut, and had dinner for two. Med pizza, salads and breadsticks. They had a 42" flat pannel with the NC state Ky game on. Cool. Ky was getting killed.

To get the internet, you had to buy a $3 access card, but I was too tired to care, when we got back to the room. We had driven 67o miles.

This morning, we headed out at 7:30, but that would be 8:30 in thirty miles as we crossed into Texas. By 10 we were in Dalhart, and I rolled into the local diner, Martha's. We had eaten there two years ago, I went directly to it like a local.

Martha's was still very busy, but we ordered the big breakfast, 2 over easy and biscuits and gravy. Came with hash browns too. Washed it all down with 2 cups of coffee. Ah! Now why did I do that? Took the diabetes pills out in the car as I left. Gota live once in a while.

The afternoon stretched long on the two lane road across Kansas. Forever comes to mind. We changed drivers in Greenburg, the town that was blown away by the tornado last summer. There is still nothing left but a few trailers and some partially rebuilt buildings. What a mess. The folks spirits seemed high, as they look forward to a new town in the end.

Wichita at 4:30 in the evening traffic, gave Loyce some pause, but she got thru all right. I took over again, half way up the turnpike to KC.

I'm glad we are here, and really glad that we do not have to drive on to Chicago or some place in the morning. Thirteen hundred miles in two days in a Corolla is plenty for anyone. I didn't calculate the exact mileage, but we were getting around 35 miles per gallon. With the motel room, we came home for around a hundred bucks. Even a tight guy like me is happy with that.

We would have had to eat anyway, so that doesn't count. Gas in the median of the turnpike this afternoon was $1.75. That was the cheapest we saw for the entire trip.

I miss Phoenix already!

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