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This 4,300 mile oddly shaped figure-eight through Austin gives us the opportunity to deliver the walnut variant of our “New Wave Gothic” dining set and provides a venue to explore the great mid-west. This is our story, maybe not the next Pulitzer nominee, but it remains our story!
Departure time around 6am July 19th, we progressed without event through PA and into Ohio. It was here, and through Illinois along I-70 that we got to see, well … corn … which drove home to us that ethanol is drastically impacting nation’s food supply by driving farmers to switch from feed to cash crops. We’ll fast forward a bit, The Casino Queen in East Saint Louis and a dinner at Tony’s, one of the best Italian restaurants in the mid-west; make sure you stop in if you’re ever in St. Louis.
The most interesting finds on our road trips come when wandering through a variety of little stores, treasure hunting for handmade knives for Stan, bears for Cindy, and an eclectic variety of items of interest to Eric. When we fell off the beaten path we stumbled upon Stearnsy Bears in Stotts City, MO, population 250, where we adopted Granny Grace. (Check Page 6 for a Bear Feature!)
Onward south on I-55 towards, we’d show off some photos from Oklahoma, but honestly we’ve figured out there’s just not a whole lot there except temperatures pushing to 103 degrees, so we progressed onward to Austin.
We reached Austin on the 23rd and successfully deposited our cargo at its new home. Mark & Becky are now, the proud caretakers of this unique dining set. We gave the pieces a fresh coat of wax, a few and a few finishing touches and bid it farewell with plans to design additional pieces for the dining set, as well as ideas flowing to furnish their home with a new bedroom set.
The return voyage took us through to Shreveport and the Horseshoe Casino, then on to Tunica for a night at Sam’s Town. Remember the passion for poker inspires the casino stops, plus we’ll note that we’ve found casinos are the most secure locations to park when traveling with expensive items, guns, or dining sets! Just stop into the guest relations department, let them know you’re better armed than their security teams and they’ll gladly lock down your vehicle for you!
We should note here, please avoid making a reservation at the Isle of Capri in Tunica (photo below), cause it’s kinda out of business. Although you’ll find privacy is great, the room service will fall short of your expectations. Fortunately there was availability in Sam’s Town, since it was a seafood buffet night Eric got over the frustration of finding a hotel quickly!
Next came a bit of a kink in our plan to avoid backtracking, we received a request from a friend (Burke) to retrieve a Polaris 6x6 from somewhere in Illinois. His logic was pretty simple, we were already travelling so given Illinois is somewhere in the middle of the country, we must be close to it! Well, backtracking six hours (this time North) through St. Louis we loaded up the six wheeler and were back on the road. It wasn’t long after the pickup was completed that things got a bit annoying, starting with a sulfur odor taking over the truck.
You’ll need some background so let’s put in a flashback “interlude.” A few days before we began this trip the truck decided to spit bit of tranny fluid out the breather, which of course placed a cloud of doubt over our mechanical stability. Dealer pitching the requirement for a $6K replacement, or perhaps it was just a little overfilled and got hot. Unfortunately – without dropping it and carefully performing a mechanical autopsy there really wasn’t any way to know for sure.
We figured we’d give it a shot, worse case we’re stranded somewhere for a few days having a new one installed at the closed GMC dealer and the gamble costs us a towing bill. Well the tranny managed to hold its own, but (end interlude) there are two factory batteries that are no longer with us one of which going out with a fountain of sulfuric acid spewing all over the engine compartment. Without a doubt, the five year old original batteries failed given the 100+ degree weather and obscene road temperatures we experienced most of the trip. Batteries of course are no big deal, and blowing out one in a diesel that has two doesn’t take things out entirely.
The real annoying phase of our mechanical mishaps reared when the truck’s computer put us into “limp” mode and tripped on that mysterious check engine light. This of course chose to happen while merging onto I-80. We’ve got the technical capabilities to automate a nuclear reactor but the average vehicle can’t spit-up more than a little outline of an engine when things go wrong, which of you does this not upset?
Obviously we were to cut our migration home off for the night, so we limped through I think three exits (75 miles) finding that all hotels were booked solid. Finally we found a place in Morris, IL and settled into the last available room. Next morning; destination AutoZone.
Well, the code scanner turns up a P1063, which was defined as a Subaru “Tumbler Generator” issue in AutoZone’s knowledgebase. We all stood around scratching our heads dancing around the simple fact that beyond knowing that there hasn’t been a generator in a vehicle since around 1958, nobody had a clue what a “Tumbler Generator” actually was; not to mention the fact we clearly put it in for a GM vehicle.
iPhone to the rescue! Things started making sense now; for those of you that are not aware “Bio-diesel” is a common blend all through the mid-west. Now we’re all for this, in fact we’re contemplating getting a processor ourselves to make it at our shop, but one of the tips Eric remembered about this new fuel is that it tends to dissolve the deposits and residue left by petroleum fuels throughout the tank and fuel lines and drag it along into the filter. It’s not uncommon to have to change 2-3 fuel filters when switching from diesel to bio-diesel.
So … a new few filter and two bright yellow heavy duty batteries, yes a parking lot install, and things turn more in our favor. It’s somewhat embarrassing given Eric’s general mechanical abilities, but the fact is it’s just not worth working on vehicles anymore. Again the pondering begins, and the truck just won’t start.
Forty-five minutes of cranking, bleeding, kicking the fuel pump on/off, and of course a host of cursing … nada … zero fuel reaching the engine. Finally a phone call to one of the manager's friends yielded the simple solution: That little metal thing we all were convinced was a solenoid of some sort … no it is a primer pump. Crack a screw next to it, half a dozen pumps, close it, two more pumps … and we were back on the road.
So at this juncture we’re a day late, but migrating home by just after 1pm. So we traverse the rest of Illinois, Indiana, and through Ohio and succumbed to being a bit tired just over the border into PA off route 80. We awoke the next morning and realized the logical thing to do now was obviously take a pilgrimage to Grizzly Industrial, Inc. in Muncy, PA.
Off we went, and things were great for about an hour, then we grenaded a brand new trailer tire, driver’s side of course. Nothing like the opportunity for a Nascar pace tire change on an interstate highway sideline, downhill, just past a blind turn, no shoulder, and of course common stomping ground for truck traffic. We’d have gotten some photos, but you know, we just had more important things to concentrate on at the time! Just in case anyone is interested, we did include a photo of the blown tire! Check back in the next issue for interesting lighting upgrades to our rig … perhaps another dozen or so strobes?
Spare in place on the trailer, original tire in the bed of the truck, we were again migrating towards home. Grizzly went without incident, getting a chance to show off some of our work to follow woodworkers and check out some tools we can’t fit in our current location. Anyone wishing to contribute to our new shop fund is welcome to forward donations in any amount.
July 28th, finally home we’re swearing off road trips; at least until one of you commissions another great piece!