Monday dawns cool and clear – perfect weather to merge onto I-70 and get across the high mountains at Vail with less stress on our engine. Thermostat is replaced and leaky hose checked and tightened again so off we go for a test ride. Engine temp stays below redline on grades (whether due to cool outside air or successful repairs we don’t care) so we return to shop to hook up trailer and start rolling toward South Dakota. As we are hooking up, I notice that there is ANOTHER puddle of antifreeze under the engine. They have “fixed” this leak a couple of times while we have been in Grand Junction. Finally a close look at the radiator reveals the hose they tightened is not the problem. Turns out the radiator itself has a transmission cooler fitting that is leaking and can’t be repaired in place. So what do we do? Radiator replacement is more $$$ and time (3 weeks – God, no!), can it be repaired? Storm and the radiator expert closely examine our existing radiator and determine that fixing will work as the radiator is in good shape. So now we are looking at spending all week in a hotel in Grand Junction while the RV is radiator-less in the shop. Although we are retired and should be able to take this in stride, we are supposed to meet relatives for their vacation in South Dakota in a week – our time cushion is deflating.
Trying to remain positive, we make a plan to find someone with vodka and turn our lemons into a party. We check into the Springhill Suites downtown and spent a couple of days enjoying the artwork on every corner there. The city cleverly lures folks downtown during the week by offering free admission for 2 to the downtown theater movie night when a receipt for your Tuesday dinner from a downtown restaurant is presented at the door. We took in Zootopia free of charge which only marginally offset our impending repair expenses. The next day we decided to expand our travel area. Based on advice from the hotel maintenance guy who abandoned a luggage cart on the elevator so he could share his travel tips with me in the hallway, we headed up the Unaweep-Tabagauche scenic highway about 50 miles to Gateway Auto Museum. This unique museum is located at Gateway Canyons, a resort built by John Hendricks, the creator of the Discovery Channel. At $700 per night for rooms (minimum) we did not stay at the resort overnight, but we loved the museum.
We had hoped to walk on the resort’s very short hiking trails and then take a drive down John Brown Canyon ( a dirt road, but the Prius OHV was up for it) before returning to Grand Junction. A garbled phone call from the shop yanks us back to reality. From what Storm can gather, there is a part required for tomorrow’s re-assembly that they haven’t located in 2 days. Now they want him to help find it. As I steer the Prius back up through the scenic valley, Storm frantically tries to get a cell signal. I glance over in the passenger seat, the Storm clouds are building.