but sometimes, you get what you need.
I haven't quite figured out what it is I needed, but I have learned a valuable lesson or two. One, if your mechanic mentions a problem with your car, and you happen to be planning on driving said car on a long-distance trip, get the problem fixed BEFORE you leave. Two, if you are driving from Utah to AZ, take the twenty extra minutes and go through Page. At least then when you break down, it will have some facilities. (We have needed car repairs in Page twice now, once in the truck and once in my car.)
The mechanic said the clutch was going out, but couldn't tell me how long it would be. I did notice that the gears were a little more sticky than usual after they flushed the transmission, but I didn't worry about it, because he didn't seem too worried about it. Big mistake. The drive down to Phoenix was going just fine. We made it to Southern Utah without any problems. When we got to Kanab, we had to make a decision. Should we go east through southern Utah and then south through Page, AZ, or should we go south into AZ and then cut east across northern AZ? We decided to take the faster northern AZ route. When we crossed into AZ and started going east, the clutch started acting funny. Alann was driving. We lost 5th gear and then 4th gear. We drove for another hour or so until we got to a town that was actually on the map and consisted of more than a gas station. We stopped because it had been 2 1/2 hours, I had to go to the bathroom, Nicki was sick and upset and wanted out of the car, and it just seemed like we needed to stop. So we took care of business, I called my mom and let her know what was happening, the dog calmed down, and we said a prayer. I wanted/ hoped we would get to Phoenix, or at least Flagstaff, but we prayed that wherever we broke down would be the right place. I started driving, and about 15 minutes outside of Marble Canyon (where we had stopped), as we were going up a large hill, the car started smoking and smelling really bad. There was finally a pull-off, and since we were losing speed and not gaining anything in any gear, I pulled over. The car behind us sped off, but the truck behind them pulled over. The guy in the truck had a satellite phone. My cell phone coverage was very spotty. I could get my mom on the phone for a minute or two, then she would be gone again. Justin (the guy that pulled over) called his office and got some tow truck numbers for us and got a tow truck coming out. My mom called the Hertz Rental Agency in Page, AZ and talked the girl into staying half an hour later on her shift so we could get there in time to pick up a car. The tow truck driver showed up and it was a flatbed, thankfully. The dogs rode in the car and we rode in the truck. The driver dropped Alann at the airport to pick up the rental, and then we went to the shop. The shop was already closed. They remained closed until Monday. Sigh. We cleared everything out of my car, so that if someone did break into it, there wasn't any danger of ID theft. Then we drove the rental down to Phoenix. It was an uneventful drive after that.
I'm trying really hard not to play "what-if". What if we had gone through Page? At least then we wouldn't have had to call the tow truck, but we are getting reimbursed from the insurance agency anyway (our policy has a AAA-type rider on it). What if we had the clutch done before we left? Well, we would have saved a lot of money, maybe, and wouldn't have lost so much time and had so much extra stress. What if, what if, what if.... the list goes on and on. But oh well. This is how you learn, right? I made a mistake in not getting the clutch replaced before we left, but there was really no indication that it would go out. I knew it was GOING, not that it was so close to being gone. Life goes on. It's just money. ($2000 once you factor in repairs and rental cars, in case anyone was wondering.) The important thing is our prayers were answered, we did break down in the right place. If we had to break down, at least Justin was behind us and caring enough to pull over, and we didn't have to spend the night or weekend in Page.
Alann did save us some money with the rental. Originally, we rented it for 5 whole days- Weds night to Monday night. Friday afternoon, Alann suddenly said "what if we returned the car and then picked it up again on Monday when we need it? We aren't using it." True, very true dear. So that's what we did.
I talked to the mechanic today. The car is a standard clutch, no surprises, it will be ready tomorrow at noon. I had to take two extra days off work, with no paid time off. But we already got our Christmas bonuses, so we aren't going to starve. Alann is missing school tomorrow and a class today. But overall, things are working out ok. (This is me being optimistic. Alann is being the "realist" and keeps shooting down my optimism. Butthead.)