Volume I : Chapter XII
We broke down. Twice I guess but one broke us all the way. We cracked our oil pan in Salt Lake City. That was fine, we knew we would have something go wrong along the way, we had a contingency fund. We paid a local mechanic to fix it while we waited out a few extra days with our friends in town. We were losing time, we wanted to head north before the weather turned and with every delay the temperature was dropping more by the day. By the time we got the car back we decided we couldn't go much further north. We were to head east towards Denver, we'd see the Replacements play, spend my birthday at La Casa Bonita.
We made it about 200 miles out of SLC. The mechanic failed to mention he hadn't fixed the pick up tube, the vital part that brings the oil into the engine, he has simply super glued it back together and sent us on our way. Just out of Moab the car started lurching, we pulled into a rest area and the sounds were getting worse. We turned the car off. I cried, I knew it was bad. Really bad.
My phone wasn't working so sitting there on the sidewalk crying I had to ask every person that walked up if I could use their phone. I had to call someone, I had to call that mechanic, I had to call my family, we needed help. We called a tow truck and he suggested we stay put til the morning if we were safe where we were.
Amongst all the chaos and anxiety we met a long haul trucker named Philip, he was easy to approach, he had six dogs with him. Big dogs and they all lived in his truck with him. We spent a lot of time that night and morning getting to know him. He had spent his entire life savings rescuing and rehoming dogs after Katrina, he was from Metarie. He explained that two years post-hurricane, he only had five dogs left on his property. He faced a lot of opposition from his neighbours for keeping pitbulls and had issues with the city too. He loved them and it didn't matter, this was the least amount of dogs he'd had since the storm. One day he came home to the police around his yard, an officer was standing over the fence. Someone had reported the dogs for fighting and this cop leaned over the fence and shot and killed all of Philip's dogs. He got back into his truck and left, the home was foreclosed on and he has lived on the road since. He still rescues dogs along the way, they live in the cab with him and keep him and his rig safe. They watched over us that night, thank you for that.
The next day we got towed to Moab, out past town was the tow yard/junk yard and we feared for the worst. They took the pan off and what was left in the oil looked like glitter, our engine had shredded from the absence of oil.
I bawled my eyes out some more, drank a beer and Jill and I had to come up with a plan. We had to get this mechanic in SLC to answer, he had to know this could have happened. He had answered the phone finally, he just said, "shit". He knew. Then he stopped answering. The guys at Nations Towing knew we were in dire straits, we had no car but we had the trailer. They said we could stay until we figured something out. We didn't have the money for a new engine or car. It started to look like we had to fly home and stay home. We were defeated.
I talked to my dad, he's good at this stuff, I told him he had to yell, scream, threaten, whatever it was that needed to be done, to make this guy own up to his mistake. We both tried but no luck. I'm not much of a yeller. The mechanic in SLC he could pick us up next week but not much more. So that is how we ended up living in a Utah junkyard. It was fun when we could distract ourselves from the bigger picture we were facing. We got drunk, took photos, met people, did the best we could, even had a movie night.
We got towed back to SLC, unpacked ourselves onto Blake's front porch again and hoped for the best. It was getting colder and we were not only running out of time but money too. In the end we were able to make arrangements, through threats of legal action not out of kindness or personal responsibility, with the shop that did this. We had to come up with $2800 to pay for part of the new engine, oh, and no refund on the $800 we had already paid. What could we possibly do? We didn't have that money left, we couldn't leave my car and this whole dream now. We weren't ready.
We got to talking, as we do. We couldn't work, not legally and the consequences were too severe to get caught trying. That's when we started the postcards. We had talked about them before we left but we had been too busy on the road to get it going. Now we had more than enough time and motivation to start making them. They helped get our story out, the let us share our experience and photos with a lot of people, friends and strangers alike. We weren't looking for a handout, we wanted to sell something, share something of worth and hopefully make enough to get us back on the road. People started to find us and try to help. An old friend from home had posted the link to our webstore and story in an online forum, Turbobricks, for Volvo enthusiants. Who knew? These guys came to our aid in full force, bought the bulk of our postcards, made calls to friends and fellow mechanics. One of these men was even the foreman of SLC Volvo and skipped his lunch so he could take a look at our car and go over the what the other mechanics has missed. The whole thing took a few weeks (Sorry Blake) but slowly it started to look like we could recover and maybe even keep going. We had to change our route, be more careful with the car, move slower and spend much less. This was absolute rock bottom for us, and it was all those people that came to help that got us back up and most importantly got us moving.