bound, trouble follows still
following day (Thursday), Scott and I met up with the Rockcrawler.com
group to say good-bye and get a picture with Willie G, his wife
and his amazing Liberty. After getting all packed up and returning
the U-Haul, we started home. We were making great time - around
200 miles in 3 hours when we were forced to make a stop. I pushed
the clutch in and it went straight to the floor. Luckily, we were
already headed for a rest area, so I pulled the Jeep into neutral
and coasted into a safe place. I then crawled under the Jeep to
have a look and I noticed that there was no bleeder screw on the
slave clutch cylinder. Upon closer inspection we noticed that
the entire Jeep was sprayed in brake fluid. It's a wonder that
we didn't notice it as we were driving, since there was even brake
fluid on the dash. Scott and I crossed I-70, climbed a retaining
wall and went into a hotel lobby to inquire about a parts store.
The cashier informed us that there was one half a mile down the
road, so we started walking.
When we got
to the store and asked for the part we were dismayed to discover
that it's not listed in the computer. I had the gentleman behind
the counter get me his box of bleeder screws. Of course, there
are two boxes - metric and standard. I was hoping that there would
be few enough bleeder screw types or that they would be cheap
enough to purchase one of each. Unfortunately, he had about 20-30
types of bleeder screws and they ranged from two to five dollars
I had changed
my transmission in December, replacing a broken AX-5 with a rebuilt
one, so I knew what the screw should look like on the outside,
but I had never seen the threads. I took my best guess, two others
that were close, and also grabbed an obscene amount of brake fluid
(we weren't going to take that walk again), and headed for the
Jeep. We stopped in at a Dodge dealership on the way back just
to see if they had the part. Unfortunately, they didn't work on
Jeeps and the Jeep dealership across town informed us that the
slave cylinder was a non-serviceable part. That meant that to
buy the bleeder screw from them would entail (besides actually
getting to the Jeep dealership) purchasing an entire slave cylinder.
They attempted to describe the screw over the phone, but their
measurements didn't make a whole lot of sense. Our best option
was just to take the screws we had and hope for the best.
an hour of walking and talking we got back to the Jeep. I had
Scott hold the two bleeder screws and I took the one below the
Jeep that had the best chance of fitting. Bless my memory, I had
chosen the correct screw. We had the clutch bled and were back
on the road in 15 minutes. We had been on the road no more than
20 minutes when we passed a Colorado state trooper. We were in
a 4 cylinder Jeep towing my utility trailer up a mountain...there
was no way we were speeding. We got pulled over. The trooper walked
up to us and asked the greatest question in the world, "
do you know why I pulled you over?" I, of course, had no
idea. It turns out, it was my windshield. Remember the little
rolling incident? My windshield has seen better days. Anyway,
the trooper took my license back to his car and after running
my name (which came up clean) he let me go with just a verbal
A little further
down the road we pulled off to fill up with gas and check the
ATF level in the transfer case. When I removed the fill plug I
wasn't blessed with the trickle of ATF that I was hoping for.
Filling a transfer case straight from an ATF bottle is nearly
impossible, so we purchased a sport bottle from the convenience
store. Much to our dismay, the transfer case was either completely
empty or really close. With no other options we continued on towards
time the sun set and we noticed a significant cloud of black smoke
behind the Jeep. We pulled off the interstate in Vail and checked
the fluid, which needed to be filled again. We decided to get
to Denver and stop for the night.
At the hotel
we filled the transfer case one more time and decided that we
should replace the rear seal in the morning. Inside the hotel
room we tracked down our family and caught them up on the shenaganins
since we had been largely unsuccessful in contacting them earlier
in the week.
in a car (ugh)
following morning, we filled up with gas and breakfast and got
directions to a parts store. The first store didn't have the seal,
but a location "just around the corner" did. Just around
the corner turned into about 3 miles through Denver. The second
store did have the seal, which we took to the parking lot and
installed, then filled up the transfer case. After covering the
fluid spills with oil absorbing powder we headed for the highway.
We had intended to pull off at a filling station to check the
fluid before we got out of the city, but didn't see one from the
interstate. Shortly after leaving the city we saw a closed station
and pulled off there. We had only covered about 30 miles and we
put in over 16 ounces of ATF. We didn't have enough fluid to make
it back to Manhattan, Kansas or even Hayes. We turned around and
headed back to Denver.
We were hoping
to find another U-Haul to rent to pull the Jeep home. After looking
around we discovered that since it was the end of the month, there
were no one-way moving vans available. Resigned to the possibility
of leaving the Jeep in Denver we found by phone a local Nazarene
Church that was willing to let us leave the Jeep in their parking
the church and parked the Jeep in the back of the lot. The pastor
was gracious enough to let us use one of his offices to make calls
from. We were trying to find a rental company that would rent
us a truck to pull an auto transport trailer behind. The main
problem was that most rental companies don't like renting to people
under the age of 25 and neither Scott nor myself are 25. My phone
calls went like this;
you rent to people under 25? If yes, do you have any trucks to
rent that can pull a trailer one way to Kansas."
say, that route was unsuccessful. We finally found a company at
the airport that rented to people under 25 and had a car available
for one way to Kansas. We loaded all of our crucial gear from
the Jeep and trailer into the church van, locked up the Jeep and
headed out to the airport. We loaded up our rental car and headed
back to Kansas. I returned Scott to his wife around 11:30 PM on
Friday and crashed on their couch.
but home at least
I got up Saturday morning at 7:00 AM, showered and headed for
Tonganoxie, Kansas, arriving at 9:00 AM, just in time for the
bank to open where I was due to sell my house. That took longer
than it should have. I left there for Kansas City, Missouri, and
school. When I got off the interstate, I hit a pothole and got
a flat in the rental car. At lunch time I called their roadside
assistance to have the flat changed. After school, I went truck
shopping with one of my friends. We both ended up buying new trucks
on Tuesday. I planned to go out to Denver with an auto transport
trailer to tow my Jeep home the following weekend. So, I guess
the story isn't over yet.
My how plans get changed. I was supposed to help a friend's mother
move on Saturday and then head to Denver with a trailer to rescue
my Jeep. An army of friends and family completed the move on Friday
so I was free to leave earlier for Denver on Saturday. To appease
my professor, I attended the first half of class and started for
my trip after lunch.
manifest for the trip also changed at the last minute. Initially,
it was going to be my uncle, sister and brother-in-law. My uncle
wanted to ride along so he could visit his boys in Denver. My
sister had an interview in Aspen. When it came time to roll, my
uncle pleaded exhaustion due to an earlier trip and my sister
had already headed out. With twenty hours of driving ahead of
me in the next day and a half, I knew that I would need someone
to help me stay alert. Frantic phone calls found many willing
friends who had too much on their plates already. About the time
I was ready to up the level of caffeine I had planned and take
on the trip solo, I got a hold of my friend Randy. The conversation
went something like this.
Chaz: Hey Randy, what's up?
Randy: Oh, you know
Chaz: Would you like to go on a road trip?
Randy: I don't know, where are we going?
Chaz: Denver, to pick up my Jeep.
Randy: When are we leaving?
Chaz: I plan on heading out of town as soon as I can pick up a
Randy: Well, give me 15 minutes to pack.
Chaz: That'll work out well, I'm 15 minutes from your house.
Randy: Okay, see you when you get here.
I arrived to find Randy packed and ready to go. We were just getting
ready to hit the highway for Kansas City, KS when my phone rang.
The local U-Haul had an auto transport trailer available for me.
At 1:40 PM we were hitched up and ready to go. A quick call to
Tony Lopez , who was gracious enough to let us crash on his floor,
to let him know about when we'd be there, and we were off. The
trip to Denver was as uneventful as western Kansas, and thankfully
so. We arrived in town at 9:00 PM local time and had found Tony's
house by 9:30 PM.
The plan was
to crash early, get up early and load the Jeep in the morning.
At Tony's suggestion, however, we headed for the church to pick
up the Jeep that night. Finding the church turned out to be somewhat
of an adventure. The street we needed to turn on didn't have a
street sign so we ended up passing it twice before actually turning
The Jeep looked
all safe and cozy at the back of the lot - no worse off than I
left it anyway. Closer inspection revealed otherwise. Some extremely
thoughtful thieves had entered my locked Jeep, presumably through
the soft top windows which were partially unzipped. They then
removed my new stereo (very professionally, I might add), picked
the lock on my center console and rescued the face. The speakers
didn't seem to cooperate as well, as one of them was missing its'
As all kind
thieves are apt to do, they locked the doors behind them when
they left. With a shrug and a sigh we proceeded with the task
at hand. With a little finagling and a lot of elbow grease, the
three of us were able to get the small trailer in the back of
my truck and strapped down. Then I pulled the Jeep on the rented
trailer and we strapped that down. After a stop for some fast
food, we went back to Tony's house. Tony cleaned some mountain
bike and Jeep parts out of the spare room and we crashed for the
of a Saga
Sunday morning found us on the road by 9:00 AM (we were still
on CST). Quite a few blessedly uneventful miles later, we were
in a small town outside Wichita where the Jeep has found a temporary
home next to my grandpa's RV. Back in the truck for the final
leg, we pulled off on our exit at 8:00 PM.
Home, at last.