We woke up to total peace and quiet on Tuesday morning. After our usual morning routine (rotating power from the coffee pot, chargers, and the A/C) we started getting ready to hit the road for a quick stop before continuing through New Mexico.
Joe went outside to see the sunrise and unplug, and there was a little package on the step of our RV from the homeowners. It was a little creator book and some legos with a note about “something for the twins to do on the road.” How sweet?!?!
Go back with me a minute…remember when Eleanor was at Stepper RV with Michelle? Because of the extent of the work that needed to be done, Joe was in contact with the RV owner a LOT over those two days. At that point, Joe mentioned to him that the alignment was pretty bad, and that was contributing to some of the other issues. The owner told Joe to go ahead and get it fixed, if we found a place along the way that could do it.
We didn’t feel like it was urgent, until we were driving through NM and it was really pulling. In addition, the check engine light was on and the cruise control was shutting off randomly when we started up a hill. AND after a pit stop we realized we were only getting five miles to the gallon…
When we were talking with our host, the night before, Joe asked him if he knew of a place that could do an alignment. He directed us to the place that services his RV, down the way a little, in Albuquerque. This was already on our route, so it seemed like a no-brainer.
We pulled into the shop and went inside to talk to them. They had us stick around while they ran some initial tests, so we would know what we were looking at. No sense in doing an alignment before knowing if there were bigger issues involved. After about 20 minutes, the technician came in and said that 3 of the 10 cylinders were having major misfires…
He said they wanted more time to run additional tests to find the issue. There was a gamut of things that could be causing this…anything from a simple fix of replacing the spark plugs…to a MAJOR engine problem. Yikes!
With that news, we got out our handy-dandy museum membership from Stacey and checked the listings. Son-of-a-gun, there were TWO museums, just a few miles away, that were included! Thank you, Lord! The shop is run by two daughters (keeping it going for their dad, who was a once a race car driver!) and one of them gave us a ride there in her own car. So sweet! She also gave us some great lunch suggestions. They were all local places and every one sounded amazing.
We started out at the Natural History Museum.
It was very well done, kid-friendly, and interactive. The boys and I had a great time. Unfortunately, (once again) Joe spent most of the time on the phone dealing with the RV issues.
After a half hour or so, Joe came to find us to tell us the trip was over for Eleanor.
Awwwwwww… [broken heart emoji, cringe emoji, big eye emoji]
I’m sad, as I type that, because even though the 12 hours that followed were INSANE, I’m still sorry to see her go. She added a lot of stress to our trip, but we did love her and enjoyed our time together…
As you can imagine, this was A LOT to process. Not only because we were so far from home, with no (current) way to get back!! But also because our plan was to meet my parents in Las Vegas in the next day or so! [big eye emoji] A while ago, my dad told us about a hotel in town that had an RV park in the back, so we had a solid reservation there for two nights.
My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year!!! ❤ ❤ To celebrate, they decided to go to one of their favorite places: Las Vegas. Originally, they planned to go closer to their actual anniversary in the fall (when it’s not 110 degrees). But when we started planning our trip, they changed their plans so we could all be there together! They wanted to show us around and experience some things with the boys!
We were all keeping tabs on this, along the way, because it meant they were going to commit to a flight…and we had to make it there in the RV on time! They planned to stay just over a week, so as long as we overlapped a few days, somewhere in there, it would be all good.
Back to the museum… Among other things, in all this madness, Joe and I were thinking about how we could still hang on to the Vegas rendezvous. All while still having a broken down RV full of our stuff in New Mexico! It was all so overwhelming…
By now, we had tons of little pieces of paper with information written on them from all our phone calls and google searches. We turned the museum cafe into our mobile office…as we sat there, making call after call. (One of which was to cancel our hotel/RV reservation in Vegas.) Joe was just amazing through it all…and the boys – man – they were so cooperative and patient.
After awhile, we were all getting a little stir crazy. We decided to walk across the street to the other museum.
This was when things really started to take shape. We were so determined not to have to give up Vegas. Neither of us have ever been and we may never have another chance. Besides, even after the first time Eleanor broke down, we said, “If we can at least make it to the Grand Canyon and Vegas, we will be so happy.” The trip was planned for much farther than that, but at this point, we were so close to that goal…at least.
The Explora Museum was awesome! In fact, I’m so sad we didn’t get to stay longer. Joe spent another hour on the phone, making plans. (Ugh! Poor guy!) and I was determined to make it as fun as possible for the boys. They’ve been through a lot too. We had SO much fun playing with the enormous water fountain…and the BUBBLE ROOM!
After all of our searches, phone calls, and discussions, we decided to rent a car and drive to Vegas. And after SEVERAL attempts, Joe was able to find a rental right there in Albuquerque! We needed a bigger car that could hold at least some of our stuff. [cringe emoji]
When we left the museum, we walked a few blocks for some tacos. It was Tuesday, after all! Everything was DELICIOUS and our waitress was a doll. She told us a lot about New Mexico customs and culture and I wish we could have stayed longer to talk and learn more.
Yet again, Uber saved the day and our ride picked us up and took us to the rental office.
Have you ever rented a car? In my experience, it’s always quite an…experience. You can imagine, at this point, Joe and I were on our last nerve. And the agent didn’t make it much easier. We joked later that he was the FIRST person we’ve met – on our whole trip – that we didn’t like. 😉 At one point, the agent said to Joe, “I just can’t seem to get it to the that number she gave you, but I can get it pretty close.” To which Joe replied, “How about you get it to the price I was quoted.”
But Joe hung in there and after a half hour, we finally left with a car! Thank you, Jesus! This was now the THIRD car Joe had driven on our trip, besides Eleanor!
From there, we drove back to the shop. Eleanor’s diagnosis? She needs a whole new engine. They did a compression test on the first cylinder that was misfiring and it was getting next to nothing. On an engine of that age, there were no real options besides a full replacement. GULP! Joe coordinated with the shop owners and the RV owner and explained our plans. Everyone was on board and appreciated the time to decide how to move forward. Now, we just had to pack up our stuff and get on the road. Remember when we broke down in Nashville and I joked about having to pack the barest of essentials? Yeah, this was the opposite of that.
This was like, how do you possibly fit an RV’s worth of stuff into an SUV for who knows how long???
But…we did it!!
Goodbye, Eleanor… 😦
Within a half hour, we were headed to Vegas. “Adapt, proceed, overcome” – that’s what Cousin Joey says.
Joe LOVED driving a regular car again…as well as actually being able to go the speed limit! (Although he had gotten so good at handling Eleanor and all her quirks.) This car was SO smooth. We found an awesome station on Sirius radio, cranked it up, and sang our hearts out as we drove into the sunset.
Our plan was to drive as far as we could, stop somewhere overnight, and then wake up for (hopefully) only 2 hours or so of driving to Vegas the next morning. We were doing great. The boys were doing great. And the adrenaline was slowly leaving our bodies…
We made it to Arizona, but there was no Welcome Center on 40 West! 😦 How unwelcoming?! But we got over it quickly, because it was SO beautiful!!
We were doing great. The boys were doing great. So we kept driving…
After being on 40 West for SO long, we were waiting to see the junction for 93. We thought, for sure, there would be hotels close to there and we would just pull off.
We were wrong.
I started looking up hotels on my phone. The closest ones, along our route, were about 20 minutes from Last Vegas.
The boys were starting to doze off in the back. Joe said, “Honey, I think we just have to go for it.”
Narrator: And go for it, they did.
I was pumping Joe full of iced coffee from the cooler and he was a CHAMP. Oh my goodness…
We were keeping my parents updated throughout the night. They were able to get us a reservation at their hotel. Yay! Guys…we entered Pacific Time and rolled up to the hotel at 12:30 am (4:30 am EST). Aaaah!
But wait, there’s more!
Remember those clear plastic bins I was raving about? Uh yeah…that was now our “luggage.” Not to mention a bunch of other random bags and anything else we could find to throw our stuff in. [sweating emoji] My parents met us at the front entrance. Mom took the boys up to the room and Joe, Dad, and I started unloading item after item from the car. Can you guess the total number? The bellhop had to write it on the ticket. And we all laughed…
Hey Vegas, the Griswolds are here! Humility is a good thing, right?
| Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill you makes you stronger
Get back up, ‘cause it’s a hard love |