Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Done in Little Rock

We are in the parking lot of a Kroger supermarket, in the Lakewood area of North Little Rock (map).

We're really just a mile or so from Jackson Wrecking, where we did not finish up until well past 5. We really did not want to hit the road that late, and at rush hour to boot, so Louise found a Wal-Mart and some other stores not far from here, with the bonus of an Olive Garden nearby. After driving past the Olive Garden, this was the closest lot that looked comfortable (24 hour grocery stores rarely hassle vehicles in the lot overnight, especially if you do your shopping there).

Harold, the service manager at Jackson's, came out and did the work himself yesterday. He's a skinny guy -- good thing, because he spent most of the time squatting on top of the transmission, through the hatch below the bed. That gave him access to most of the clamps and one end of the bad hose. The other end could only be accessed by squeezing under the bus -- I put the back air bags all the way up to give him a bit more room. And, of course, with tranny fluid everywhere, he was a greasy mess after being "in the hole." Whenever we get someplace that can tolerate the effluent, I need to get under the bed with the pressure washer and clean as much of the gunk out of that area as I can.

Harold wasn't sure he could get a replacement hose made in double-braid stainless, but that's what he came back with. It was one size larger than the one he took out, but with the correct fittings on it. After it was all back together, we put nearly half a gallon of ATF in the reservoir and fired it up. It took quite a bit of revving the engine and tweaking the wheel to get the giant air bubble to move through the system, and, even then, my power steering faded in and out several times as we circled Olive Garden and maneuvered into the Kroger lot. It's a bit hair-raising to be mid-turn in a parking aisle, with cars on either side, when the steering wheel no longer wants to budge. I had to pick my butt up off the seat and throw all my weight into the wheel to finish the turns.

Harold also took a quick look at the fuel system for us, with no real conclusions. An oil change was out of the question -- it was already past 5, and they don't stock 40-weight. They only charged us for two hours, even though it seemed like he was down there for over three, plus the 70 bucks or so for the hose, which is probably not much, if anything, over what the hose shop charged them, and $7 for two quarts of ATF. We're keeping their card -- clearly they do everything from engine overhauls to tire repairs, and they have a fleet of tow trucks that can easily accommodate Odyssey (including one that's been chromed out and painted in flames that has, apparently, been on one of those trick-my-truck TV shows, so we were told).

Now that we are done here, and with little chance of being asked to head to Brownsville (hurricane Dean is no longer forecast to be of any threat to the US), we will resume our eastward journey today. We've had to abandon our leisurely meandering on US64, but we'll substitute US70, which roughly follows I-40 from Little Rock to Memphis. Again, we shouldn't have to get back on the Interstate until it's time to cross the Mississippi.

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