Well, we made it to California! Our trusty Winnebago, however, did not...
Remember when we thought we were having difficulties with our transmission but it was actually our axle knuckles? Well, it was actually our transmission. It’s toast.
Allow me to rewind. At last update, we were laboring through frozen west Texas. At the beginning of our second day (Tuesday), we were still under the impression that our Winnie was invincible, so long as we kept greasin’ them axles and avoiding the dreaded shimmy. How naïve...
Ever since we purchased the damn thing, we knew our automatic transmission was trash. Hence we bought a junk-yard Lesharo with a manual tranny to replace it. But there was just no time to swap it out. We had that stupid deadline, after all.
And honestly, she was running like a dream for much of the day on Tuesday. Despite difficulties climbing hills (occasionally, we'd enter the 80mph highway at 28mph, so, uh, thank God for hazard lights), we were still confident of the Winnie's rock star capabilities.
And you know what? West Texas isn't really all that bad to look at. We received a plethora of warnings about dreaded west Texas: "It's so boring!" "Oh, man it's desolate our there." "Ugh, I'm glad I'm not you." "You guys are stupid."
But the westward trek was actually pretty pleasant. The sky was infinite and the sun was shining.
In the video below, you can vaguely see the steam coming off the pavement as it warmed. More importantly, though, this video serves to demonstrate just how incredibly shaky the Winnebago can be while driving. It gets tiresome.
Many points of the drive were almost nauseating. Mostly those times when the Winnie was using all its strength to climb a moderate hill. Those are the moments when you just hold your breath and hope. There were a lot of those moments. But she persevered, regardless. We were lucky. In retrospect, we continue to question what would have happened if we got stuck on the side of the highway in 25-degree temperatures. We were definitely lucky...
As we continued, we began to see even more snow dusted on the ground (and that worried us a bit). Further ahead, we witnessed mountain tops capped in snow peek through the clouds.
The Winnebago routine continued. Every two hours we would stop to gas up and let the Winnie rest. The gas gauge is broken on the Winnie (as it was on our Kia), so we weren't trying to take any chances.
Every few stops, Pete would re-grease those axles. One of our stops was beautiful, yet anything but pleasant for Pete. It was bitter cold and he had to lay on the pavement under the Winnie and shove grease into tiny crevices with his bare hands. The wind was whipping. I sat inside, blogging or something...
|The working conditions were not ideal.|
At least our situation fared better than the dude's next to us. Well, at least that's what we thought back then...
After a thorough greasing, the Winnie pulled over and posed for an all-inclusive holiday card!
And then it was back to the road. Onward and onward we drove. A seemingly endless push to get the hell out of Texas. Hours passed. The snow eventually disappeared and the sun was slowly setting. I found the landscape intriguing.
Much of our remaining time in west Texas (before El Paso) was spent on the tail of semis in order to increase our gas mileage. There's that little suction area just behind a semi that pulls you into a vortex if you get close enough. In cars, you can shift into neutral and just coast. Not so easy in a rickety Winnebago. The vortex was a little unsettling. And terribly jerky.
|Objects in photo are closer than they appear.|
We approached El Paso just as the sun was setting. It was pretty. And we were hungry.
|Sun! Nom nom!|
We opted to tough our hunger out until we got into New Mexico. But it was exactly 5 o'clock. Perhaps we should have waited out the traffic?
Finally, we crossed the Texas border into New Mexico (a long-awaited moment, indeed!). Las Cruces wasn't far off. It was seriously time for some dinner. We stopped at what we thought was a little local barbecue joint: Dickey's Barbecue Pit. What? That shit's a chain from Texas! You've got to be kidding me...
Whatever. It was awesome. Free pickles for Pete. Free ice cream for me. We were happy.
Who knew that only 5 hours later, tragedy would strike our little home? And we'd be f*#king pissed...