It was bound to happen. I should not have been bragging about how dependable Mae (our Chevy HHR toad and blog namesake) had been all through her life with us. Suddenly, with 80,000 miles on the odometer, she just decided to make me a liar.
I had pulled out of our RV park on Lake Conroe one morning, and Mae's automatic transmission decided not to shift out of first gear. With a little coaxing, however, she would finally relent and begin upshifting as usual, so I thought it was a fluke. The next morning--same thing! At this point, I knew the transmission needed a looksee, so I did a little research and took it to a well-reviewed shop in The Woodlands. I feared the news would be bad, and it was: A rebuild of the transmission would be necessary. They gave me a quote that sounded really high, so I checked with a few other places and found their prices were pretty well in line with each other for this kind of job. I gave them the go-ahead and began a mourning period for the upcoming decimation of my funds.
When I picked up Mae after the transmission job, I noticed a significant crack in the windshield that had not been there before. I pointed it out to the owner of the shop, who said he would reimburse me for the replacement if my insurance didn't pay. (It didn't.)
After the windshield replacement, I noticed one of the headlights had burned out. Replacing the bulb on a Chevy HHR is not all that simple, so I drove to the Chevrolet dealer, and they were able to work me right in. Upon inspection of the headlight, the mechanic found that the assembly--not the bulb--was bad. A new assembly would be required. Who would have thought this job would require a couple hundred bucks in addition to the ridiculous cost I paid to ransom Mae from the transmission shop? Since bad things are supposed to appear in threes, I hope this is the end of the soaking of my poor wallet! You may recall that a brake job had been done on Mae in Colorado Springs a few months ago, but I'm not counting that one.
This brings into focus some judgment calls that need to be made by RVers when deciding what kind of toad to buy and when to replace one. My considerations for buying Mae, besides its obvious eligibility to be towed four wheels down, were that it had low miles (I will always buy a used car for a toad), it was bargain-priced, it got good mileage, it was small and easy to tow and Sandy liked to drive it which, of course, trumps everything. (I wasn't crazy about the red color, but hey--it's easy to spot by other motorists.)
With that said, there could have been a good argument, I guess, for trading Mae off about this time had the transmission not gone kaput. In fact, I had been thinking about doing just that. We had driven it 80, 000 miles and towed it 40,000 additional ones, so it has given good service over the five years we've had it. Now, however, with the investment in new brakes, a new transmission and the three-year warranty coming with it, it makes sense to keep Mae at least until the transmission warranty expires, so as to help amortize the extra repair cost. After all, a toad's life is hard and is always in peril, so why not buy a used car and get all I can out of it while it's in one piece? Anyway, she's all put back together now and running like new, so I've given her a stern lecture, and I'm hoping for the best.
We've been paused here in the DFW area keeping up with our never-ending medical/dental visits and more happily, visiting with friends. I've been having a problem with facial skin lesions caused by sun exposure over the years. Oddly, my flying career may have had something to do with this, sitting in the left cockpit seat in the bright unfiltered sunlight above the clouds for many hours at a time. The main problem has been on the left side of my face and is mostly treated with cryotherapy. I have also had to have surgery on an area of malignancy. With this history, I have to see my dermatologist quite regularly, unfortunately.
For Sandy's birthday, I had gotten really good tickets for the Broadway touring production of "Phantom of the Opera," and we enjoyed immensely seeing that at the Bass Hall in Fort Worth.
We are not exactly pleased with the KOA here in Arlington. Entry and exit is difficult, the sites and roads are gravel with potholes, and the parking spots are very unlevel. Unfortunately, the DFW area has an extreme scarcity of nice RV parks. The demand is huge, and the parks that are here are always full. I think someone could do very well by opening an upscale park in the area.
We've been doing a good bit more cooking in the coach lately now that we've settled in for a few weeks. Here are pics of a couple of our almost-healthy favorites--taco soup and shish-kebab made with ribeye steak--yum!
Our next port of call will be a rally in San Antonio in about ten days. Thanks for stopping by, y'all!
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.