From Mammoth Cave we made the decision to head west to Colorado. And like all great Western adventurers we headed to the gateway of the West-St. Louis. Things were going swimmingly. Cruising down the highway at Coachese’s maximum speed we made almost as good time as a covered wagon. As soon as the Legendary Gateway Arch came into view the camera came out.
And that’s when it happened. First there was a terrible squealing noise, then a lot of shaking, then more squealing. Then the sensation the engine was about to fall out of the chassis. We pulled off onto the safest place we could find-a narrow median strip straddling a truck filled highway and an on-ramp. Super fun.
Once stopped we noticed smoke coming out of the engine. A lot. But it dissipated quickly. After a somewhat sketchy and terrifying attempt to check out what was going on we found nothing obviously wrong. Huh. After a few minutes we were able to start up Coachese and limp him off the highway to a nearby KOA.
We were 300 miles into our trip.
It’s important to pay attention to signs. This was not a great one. Still, as we camped at the KOA we weren’t ready to give up on our journey.We got some fairly optimistic advice we might be able to make it to Colorado if we just kept an eye on Coachese’s fluids. In the meantime there was a storm rolling in but we had an electric hook-up and could finally get Wembley comfortable with air conditioning. We had wifi and could stream the Olympics. We had our beautiful, water-tight mobile home to keep us dry when the downpour started. And in the morning, after checking our fluid levels, we were headed for Colorado.
Then the electricity at the campground went out. No problem, it was much cooler with the storm. But that also meant the wifi was down. No Olympics. Our positivity was starting to wear thin. But as the wind howled and the rain beat down at least we were dry.
Until…reaching into an upper cabinet water ran down my arm. In a massive rush to find the leak and move everything in its path we broke one of our favorite bowls. We discovered our ukulele had miraculously caught most of the water-shocking how much it could hold-so the water damage was minimal. But looking at our carefully organized upper shelf contents scattered on the floor was very disheartening. When we finally sat back down it was hard to keep seeing things in a positive light. But I tried.
“At least its only leaking in one-” I started to say.
And on cue drip, drip, drip splattered my arm from another upper shelf.
It was a bleak night. But we woke up mostly dry and still dedicated to our Western Dream. We topped off our fluids, started the engine and headed out of the KOA. We lasted maybe 20 miles. This time there was a terrible burning smell and hollow whistling followed by a deeply disturbing wail. We were not going anywhere.
So here we are, in St. Louis, Gateway to the West. It seems like a lot of the mechanical work we put into Coachese to start this adventure has come undone. This is actually a pretty big deal. Right now Coachese is in the hands of yet another mechanic. Why should anything go differently this time?
A few signs seem to be pointing in the right direction. We found a pet friendly airbnb in St. Louis in a great neighborhood a few blocks from Jeni’s Ice Cream. We have unlimited Olympic TV coverage and wifi. Wembley hasn’t panted in days.
And it looks like we’re going to get a much closer look at that Arch.