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7/29 10:09 PM Eastern time, DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA BABY!!!
I'm here! I can't believe it, but there it is... the Dog's in the driveway and I'm sitting at the computer in boxer shorts! So either I'm hallucinating in a hospital somewhere and on the verge of a nervous breakdown or I actually finished this silly trek. I think I'll go with the latter for now, if that's ok with all of you.

It seems redundant to say that the drive was uneventful, so I won't, because it wasn't. I got up at 5AM to beat the rush hour traffic around the DC Beltway (I pity those of you who read this and know personally why that was necessary. Been there, done that, remember why I moved!

Anyway, I was successful and made it with no problems all the way past DC/Alexandria/Mixing Bowl and was cruising along fine, enjoying the weather before it got too hot when it happened. I was just coming off of a bridge and it was one of those with a nice lip at the concrete decking/pavement connection. BAM! It was one of the butt-clenching jolts like those from the potholes back on the AlCan. Unfortunately, this time it did cause a problem... the engine started reving freely.

My first though was that I might have snapped the driveshaft, but I didn't hear any clunking like I would have thought. I next checked the shifter to be sure it was still in Drive, and it was. That got me really worried, as did the semi coming up behind me at full speed as I was cruising with no power. I managed to get over and off to the side and as I did, this beautiful off-ramp appeared, leading to a rest area! I couldn't have been luckier.

After stopping and taking a breath, I tried the shifter and noticed that I didn't have Reverse either. A little more playing showed that I did have 1st and 2nd. Odd. I then tried to put it in Park to take a peek underneath and the shifter refused, like something was physically blocking it! I was totally befuddled on that one. I just hoped the tranny hadn't disintegrated. I went to put it in Neutral to put the e-brake on and lo and behold, it was reverse! What I found was that all of the positions had shifted down one notch, N was R, R was P, D was N, 2 was D and 1 was 2. I was thrilled to find out that I still had everything (except 1, but who cared on the highway), so I put it in R/P and got out.

What I found was that the two bolts (there should have been three but one insert in the frame had pulled out before I bought it) holding in the right side of the transmission/transfer case support had disappeared. I'm guessing that they simply vibrated loose because I'm fairly certain we didn't use LocTite when we reassembled things in Helena. Luckily, the other side held tight and it only dropped a couple of inches. Check the picture.

Since it could move, I nursed it to the next exit where there happened to be a Home Depot, but not wanting to drive any farther than necessary, I stopped in a gas station near the exit and parked. I took out one of the bolts that was still there, checked to make sure the two good inserts weren't stripped out and walked to the HD for the replacement bolts. I got them and I also picked up a longer bolt/lockwasher/washer/nut and a magnetic pick up tool to try and get something in the third, empty hole to help support the crossmember. A little walk to the Pep Boys to get a bottle jack to raise the tranny and the plate and I went back to work.

The bolts (with lots of LocTite this time) went in and I taped a washer and lockwasher to the long bolt and easily got it through the hole in the frame just ahead of the crossmember so that I could put the nut on it and tighten it down. I had to hold the threads below the nut with my RoboGrips to get the thing tight, so it might be tough to get off, but it's on there damn tight now and I'm not worried about it coming loose again soon. I also undid the bolts on the other side and LocTited them to kingdom Come, too.

Once I was sure that everything was as it should be, a check of the shifter showed that all had returned to normal and I was back on the road. I made it the rest of the way with no troubles. I pulled into Durham with no gas left, but I was shocked that I could make it from essentially Baltimore to Durham on one tank of gas!

Anyway, I'll have a wrap up tomorrow, I want to figure out the total miles, the average MPG and some other stuff to share with y'all, but this is the last road report. It's awfully hard to believe that it's over and the Dog actually made it the whole way under her own power! I guess you can stop the prayer services/séances/animal sacrifices that I know you've all been doing and give yourselves a big pat on the back for helping.

It's been one hell of a ride. I'm just happy that I could bring y'all along with me.

 
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