So much has happened since my last post, I don’t know if I’m on Plan B, C, D or…. H.
It was a blow.
No one died.
It wasn’t the end of the world.
But when they told me it would cost close to $2,000 to fix the problems with the van, the lump welling up in my throat nearly choked me.
My mind reeled. Really? Really? Do I dump more money in to this thing to get/keep it running? That much more? Why don’t I just throw in the towel? Stop dreaming, get real and go back to a mindless desk job? Sell the van? Who’d want to buy it? How am I going to get Éva home? Overpriced airfare? So many questions running through my mind, each with a hefty price tag attached.
You go to the mechanic with a question about an oil leak and you come away with a whole lot of bad news. Defeat. I just felt defeated. It was, to say the least, a bad day.
I crawled, stunned, back into bed at my sister’s house and shut my eyes, hoping it would just go away. But, as happens, a new day brings a new outlook.
Okay, I thought, how do I deal with this? I do have options.
So, here’s the scenario:
1. The oil leak is the big expense – $1,000. It’s located in the epicenter of the engine. They’d have to practically take the whole friggin’ thing apart in order to get to it. But, it isn’t a super bad leak and as long as I check the oil level every day before taking off (which I always do, anyway), it should be okay for a while. That can be a future fix. (And, by the way, just so you know, before I started, I contributed to a carbon footprint offset site to compensate for the nasty pollution I’d inevitably be producing on this road trip. Just sayin’ so you don’t think I’m a completely selfish, polluting jerk).
2. The front brake issue was the surprise. When they test drove it, they noticed a shimmy. I think I must have got used to all the shimmying, shaking and hiccuping of the van because I didn’t think it was a problem. But, no, it was a problem…. that could cost up to $900. Oh, joy. They said the brakes could last a while, but of course one immediately thinks about that one time, that one moment when they stop ‘lasting.’ Not an option. They said it would be $40 for the diagnostic. Pretty much any decision I’d make about this vehicle (and any future plans) depended on how much this brake job would cost. The $1,000 for the oil leak was the known factor (and bad enough). If the brake job was actually going to be $900 on top of that, I had some big decisions to make. I told them to go ahead with the diagnostic.
3. In the meantime, though Éva had been enjoying the adventure, she was feeling a bit homesick. She’d been incredibly patient with the whole van thing but, understandably, she wanted to head home at some point soon and I very much wanted to complete the journey with her.
4. My sister is moving house and would like my help in organizing and decorating her new place – and I’d love to do so. It’s pretty much my forte and I do enjoy it. She’s willing to pay for my help in getting the job done and I could certainly use the money. Besides, it’s fun helping friends and family and we do enjoy our time together.
5. I’ve never seen the legendary fall foliage colors in the eastern U.S. It’s that time of year now and I had envisaged getting back to Asheville in time to see that.
6. My daughter Annie (Éva’s mom) would like me to come live with her in Asheville for a while and I would love to have that time with her. I’d also like to get there before the weather becomes too much a factor.
So, as you can see, yes, I do have options. So many, in fact, that I’m emotionally and mentally (and financially) pulled in a number of different directions.
A couple days later, I got the diagnostic results: the brake problem wasn’t as bad as they thought and could be fixed for $185. I practically screamed into the phone, “Yes, do it!!” I can’t begin to describe my relief.
After hearing this fantastic news, everything seemed to fall into place (emphasis on the word ‘seemed’). As much as I wanted to help my sister with her move, in a few days Éva and I would continue our journey east. It’s what we set out to do, it’s been fun and crazy and I wanted to continue.
But first, I wanted to finish painting my sister’s kitchen at her new place. It had been the most ungodly screaming fire engine red and I’m painting it a calm white. I can’t imagine waking up to that color every day. I don’t mind color on the wall – in fact, I love it – but this was downright evil and she wants a clean palette for her kitchen.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that while I’ve been at my sister’s in Salem, Éva was staying with an old friend in Vancouver, Washington. I’d kept her updated as to the (very slow) progress of the van situation. But, maybe that progress was too slow and maybe I’d underestimated her homesickness. Éva was tired of being on the road and just wanted to get home. She was done. She was able to find a flight and she’ll be heading back soon. I won’t deny I’m saddened by it. But I do understand. Life on the road is anything but comfortable or easy – well, most of the time, anyway. But she is definitely a trooper. We had a lot of fun and saw a lot of beautiful, interesting, odd and funny sights. And we spent time with family and friends and that was the best.
So, there we have it. I’ll finish up the job at my sister’s and then it’s boogie on down the road.
I’ll make my way slowly back to North Carolina. I think I’d like to meander for a while. I spoke with Annie last night and she said the fall colors are just now getting started, so I should be able to get there in time to see them.
I don’t know if there’s a moral to this, my long, drawn-out tale. Maybe ‘Roll with the punches’ or something. I don’t know. I’m just trying to make my way through this thing without stepping on too many toes, but sometimes I trip on my own.