Sunday, August 29, 2010

Clifford gets some attention

How did a whole month go by? Very quickly, that's how.

About a month ago, I boarded a plane in Baltimore in the morning. A few hours later, Joe and the boys picked me up at the airport in Wichita, driving Clifford the big red truck, trailer in tow. It was fun to watch my entire household approach, stopping at the end of the arrivals area just long enough for me to throw my suitcase in the back and swing up into the truck cab. We drove east, expecting to get (back) to Maryland in about two weeks. Long enough for a leisurely pace, maybe even with a few days in a couple of nice parks.

Clifford, shortly after we took her on as our home-truck.
Clifford was showing off a new muffler (yay!), a new grating sound (boo!), and an occasional weirdness in the shifting (eh?). A few miles out, darkness coming on, we decided the sound and the shifting issue needed to be diagnosed before we left a familiar area, so we spent the night at El Dorado State Park, and headed back into the Wichita area in the morning. Joe towed our little house around for hours, first to the diesel mechanic, and then to the transmission specialist, neither of whom could immediately identify the noise, but both of whom thought it should be addressed before our 1500-mile journey.

He scheduled to have the transmission guy look at things after the weekend, then brought the trailer to park it at one of our borrowed homes -- his dear sister has a big house and a huge heart, and loves to have her nephews around. As we parked, shifting gears over and over, the transmission fluid started leaking, then gushed out. The road looked like an automotive murder scene, the reddish stuff splashed all over the place. We quickly finished parking, unhitched, and arranged for a tow to the shop.

Long story short (too late!), it was a relatively minor transmission failure, but we decided to have some upgrades done while she was in the shop. It took a mere two weeks to have the transmission rebuilt, bigger, stronger, probably not faster (Joe babies Clifford, and rarely approaches the faster highway speed limits). The noise was a vibration caused by the new muffler, and could be addressed later.

I gave up on getting to Maryland in time for the events that had set our timeline. My cousin's band was playing at a favorite little cafe, and a dear friend was having her last big birthday party in Maryland before moving to Chicago. Yes, these are the kinds of things that fill our sails and set our "un-schedule". Why not?

When it started to look like Clifford would be ready on Thursday, we knew there was no way to make the Friday night gig. But we'd have 48 hours to make it to the Saturday night party. Of course that, too, would be impossible at our habitual, casual pace. What we call a "sprint" is maybe six hours a day, with a recovery day after two days. But we were feeling bold. We decided to try the sprint of all sprints. 24 hours of driving in 48 hours.

Next entry - Maryland again!

No comments:

Post a Comment