We are off! We left Chicago yesterday afternoon and headed west on I-90 towards Mount Rushmore as our first destination. Our current plan is to hit the high points of South and North Dakota and then head to Yellowstone. But than may change given the CHILLY weather that has settled over the midwest this week. While it's cozy-cool during the day and perfect driving weather, the nights are pretty cold and the Westy is not super-well insulated. We need to get our furnace fixed pronto if it's going to get colder!

We got a good 6 hours of driving in yesterday and were headed through Rochester, MN around 8pm when we heard a not-so-great noise coming from the front driver-side wheel. We pulled off into the construction zone thinking that we blew a tire, but all four tires were intact. We called AAA and they sent out a tow-truck to bring the Westy into a shop for repairs. It turns out that we blew a wheel bearing, but it's very fixable and could have been a lot worse. And even better, they have the parts we need! Thanks to Virgil's Auto Clinic in Rochester, MN! 

But let me backtrack a bit to our tow-truck driver, Doug. He could not have been a nicer guy. He arrived quickly on the scene and set to analyzing the situation with the Westy. Given the two bikes strapped to the front, the rear-wheel drive, and the rear engine he had a few curveballs that he may not have encountered with a stranded Ford Focus. He seemed to relish in the mild challenge and set to strapping on a "dolly" system which raises up the front wheels and supports the back wheels on four mini-tires. Pretty cool. The whole time he was chatty, friendly, and funny. 

Most of you know that my husband has a true gift for asking people great questions and getting them talking about their lives. Doug told us all about his wife, who is also the dispatch for their tow company (and who has better luck waking Doug from sleep by calling his cell phone, even though he's right next to her in bed), and his three grown children (who all live in Rochester as well), and his ex-wife (who has a strange telepathy with his current wife and when one is thinking of the other, they call each other - which is sometimes twice a week), and his service in the army (he was a heavy machinery engineer), and his failed retirement (he was retired for three years and travelled to 47 states with his wife visiting army buddies and their families, then back to work). When he dropped us at the repair shop, we asked if the shop might mind us camping in their parking lot. Before the words were even out of our mouths, Doug was dialing his phone and offering to house us for the night at his place. We explained that the car was meant for camping and we weren't really stranded, but he gave us his card and number before he left, just in case. We were pretty blown away by his generosity and caring, not always typical of your standard tow-truck driver. God has an amazing way of putting great people in our lives, we're excited to see who we meet next!
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Westy getting ready for her tow ride.
Tom Trimmer Sr.
9/16/2011 03:49:30

Your pit crew must have missed that little maintenance item during your Birmingham stop. Hope we don't lose our B- rating. Nothing like a little adventure in the first 8 hours of the trip.
Ground support crew standing by 24-7.

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Nancy Trimmer
9/16/2011 03:55:31

Well, the adventure begins in grand style!
Stay warm!

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Brinks
9/17/2011 00:33:29

That sounds like the story about the WY State Trooper, when Tom was talking to the cop in his car for 45 minutes. Good Stuff!!

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    The Trimmers

    Lisa and Tom Trimmer are from Chicago, IL and traveling the country in their 1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia Campervan.

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