Days 6 and 7: Fiesta at Flying J & a new transmission for the TQ

So I realize I’ve been a little vague about how the TQ is performing these days. To be honest? It’s been AWESOME… the tires are hardcore, we haven’t spent a penny on gasoline, and there is enough room for us to comfortably live in the TQ with four people and a dog without wanting to strangle each other.

There’s just one thing that’s been underperforming: The transmission.

Early on, we noticed that the transmission had a leak. Once we found the balance between filling it back up and overfilling it, we were set… we even had a quick repair in Missoula just to be safe. All was well until later that evening when we tried going on a back-road with an extremely steep grade.  The TQ was trying real hard (she does have a 1993 Dodge Cummins engine, after all) but without a large runway to gather speed, she needed some time to cool off, and transmission fluid was still leaking.

Spirits stayed high and we went out in Whitefish for Huckleberry beer, so that helped. After dinner at The MacKenzie River Pizza Company, we enjoyed a night of beer and stiff liquor drinks at The Great Northern Bar & Grill and met a man named Henry who had many questions about our objectives with the Travel Queen. We also met a man Kirt who was a ping-pong fanatic. He must have been pushing 80 years old, and had no cartilage in his knees (he told us that), but he insists on playing ping pong 4+ nights a week at the Great Northern. The lively situation there allowed us a little bit of freedom from the pressing issue of the transmission. Plus, living in a motorhome is sweet, because you can go out for the night, and just walk back to wherever you parked, brush your teeth and go to bed… for free!

We decided after crossing into Canada on Tuesday that the space between Calgary and Edmonton was our last chance to get something major fixed in the TQ without paying an arm and a leg in the Yukon Territory. Up north, they might not even have the parts or the “know-how” on how fix the TQ, and getting stuck in on a back road with 100 gallons of stinky, vegetable oil to attract grizzlies is not something we’re interested in.

So, as a gift to all of us to celebrate Russ and Britt’s three-year wedding anniversary yesterday, we splurged on a new transmission. We also had a Mexican fiesta in the Flying J parking lot, complete with tacos, Latin dancing music, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, and three-quarters of a bottle of tequila. It was a delightful evening. As a bonus, we scored over 60 gallons of veggie oil at Patty’s Diner in Red Deer, leaving us topped off with 100 gallons total of oil to get us north to the Yukon. Like I said: The fact that we haven’t spent a penny on gas is pretty freaking awesome.

But for now, we wait. We’re currently in Red Deer killing a little time while the good folks at A1 Transmission do a little surgery on the TQ. Here’s our junk show garage sale in the front of A1. Thank god we have bikes to get around!

While Sean and Russ found the local skatepark, Britt and I found a Bikram Yoga Studio in Red Deer and attended a 90-minute class this morning. And though I’ve done hot yoga before, Bikram is a whole other ballgame. It was—wait for it—ONE HUNDRED AND THREE DEGREES in that room, with over 20 bodies, moving and sweating for and hour and a half. And the stink was the least of my concerns! There was a point where I honestly felt like the place had rigged their floor to heat from the bottom up… my body was so hot it felt like I was in Death Valley all over again, except without a bike to speed on.

But, I’m proud to say I made it through the class. All in all, it’s been a great day. Cross your fingers we’ll be off to the Yukon tonight… it’s over 1,000 miles to go to get there, but you know what? The fuel is free and we’re ready to go.

Whitehorse, here we come.


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