So you might have figured it out from the title: Buster Lewis needs a transmission rebuild. Maybe it was Vail Pass that did it, or my poor overdrive management, or... before I start beating myself up I have to remember I had my transmission suspicions even before we left Los Angeles. That flashing "overdrive off" light, and a sluggish first couple of gears, made me bring Buster in to get checked out. But transmission shops are busy, and he only got cursory attention.
Sunday was basically a down day, since no auto shops were open. Des Moines seems to be fun to capacity, thanks to this week's Junior Olympics. The city is crawling with young string-bean runners and muscled gymnasts, accompanied by their coaches and chaperones.
Monday morning we ubered over to United Fleet, where Buster had been towed. Luckily, the tow company, Central Iowa Towing & Recovery, talked me out of going to the place AAA was planning to send me to, since it basically specialized in small foreign autos, not vintage diesel monsters like Buster. I swear, AAA will just tell you whatever you want to hear, I guess. I was assured the place they recommended was an RV mechanic specializing in diesel. Not so much, according to my new friends at the tow company. United Fleet, they said, was the place for me.
We waited around for a good chunk of the day, and I would have waited much longer to get a better verdict, but alas, a rebuild is in the cards. Once I got the word I immediately hopped onto the forum at skoolie.net, as much to vent as anything else. But the awesome supportive people there jumped right on it, trying to find me a cheaper transmission and just generally offering support.
Several people I spoke to suggested the shop hadn't done enough to try to repair instead of rebuild, but I trust these guys, if only because they had to deal with me sitting in their waiting room and basically crying all day about my broken bus. I think they'd probably have applied any bandaid possible just to get rid of me.
I googled around and found what seemed to be the cheapest and almost only room available room in Des Moines, at the Motel 6 North. When I called them they said they were booked up but I found them on Expedia and booked the whole week in advance so I wouldn't have to move again. Yes, a week is how long the repair is supposed to take. I guess most of that time will be spent waiting for parts. I tried to convince the shop I should be allowed to sleep in the bus during this time but they were not having it - liability issues or something. So Motel 6 it is.
This Motel 6 is unlike any other I've stayed at. It's basically a welfare hotel; most of the guests are semi-permanent residents, ranging from families to elderly to sketchier folks. There are a few travelers here, and even a couple of Junior Olympians who couldn't afford the nicer hotel packages. But mostly it's the regulars, some of whom I'd describe as a bit shady. Still, everybody's nice and it's more interesting than a boring old cookie cutter hotel would be. I just wish we weren't losing an entire week of time. Maybe it will go faster than predicted.
The photo is Cowboy horsing around at the Motel6. I swear, this little bear is what keeps me going a lot of the time. Despite a desperate hacking cough that won't go away he still wags his tail and makes that goofy grin. I heart my dog. I'm trying to learn from him. Don't be surprised if next time you see me I roll over for a belly rub.