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Worn brakes, an overheating car, a bad transmission...what else?

Today is July 4th and we are in Dallas celebrating this great day with family.


We were headed to Houston to spend the weekend with Douglas (my son), his wife Ary, and my grand baby Celeste. We had not seen Celeste since March and were anxious to see how much she has grown and all the new things she can do.


She will be 2 in September, so each month at this stage there is lots of improvement and progress, and it is fun to watch them grow up.


We left late Friday night as several of us did not leave work till later and then we had to go home and pack, etc. I had to go to Sam's after work to pick up food and stuff, then went by the dry cleaners to pick up clothes, then headed for home.


I noticed the 35 (which runs south to Dallas) was already backed up with cars that had TV's, boats, campers, and so forth on the back.


The radio stations were also warning people to not use the 35 as there was 7 miles of construction near the Oklahoma/Texas border and the 35 was down to one lane and Friday evenings, especially, the traffic would back up for hours.


The last time we went to Dallas, as we came home, there were 3 different places we had congestion. It took us 6 hours to arrive home when it is normally a 3 hour trip.


When I arrived home, I looked at an Oklahoma map and we decided to take an alternate route. We took the toll road, 44, to Wichita Falls, Texas, and then took the 287 on into Fort Worth.


It took 3 and 1/2 hours instead of 3, however, it had little traffic and was a very nice road.


We noticed as we pulled in to a cousin's house where we were stopping for awhile, that the rear wheel was making a grinding, scraping noise.


Originally, we planned to stay in Dallas to sleep about 4 hours, then head on to Houston. With the wheel making that sound, however, we sent Maria, Travis, and Tony on to Houston in my car, while we left the little ones at their cousins, and Fito and I went to look for a mechanic.


It was 8 am on the Saturday of the July 4th weekend, but we drove to the Spanish section where there are several salvage yards, used car dealers, and mechanics.


We stopped at a salvage yard and asked several gentlemen if there was a good mechanic in the area. We were sent to one place close by.


This mechanic ended up being from El Salvador (where my husband is from) and he ended up replacing the brakes on both back wheels. The person who had fixed them previously, had put the pads on backwards, and they had worn down all the way to the drums.


The frustrating thing is Friday, I had taken off from one class to take the Suburban to get an oil change and I had specifically told them to check everything as we were leaving to go to Houston.


He said the brake damage was visible to the eye and they could have easily seen that they needed to be replaced. 


Just as we were about to pay him, I noticed that the front passenger bumper was scraped and that a light had been pushed out and was not working.


It appears that someone backed into the Suburban. He fixed the light and charged us $70 for fixing the light and both brakes. (Fito had gone to buy the brake parts).


We then headed back to the cousins, picked up Felipe, David, Elizabeth, and Rebeca and headed toward Houston.


We were about 90 miles south of Dallas when the transmission started slipping on the Suburban. I tried putting it into a lower gear, using the tow gear, we stopped and checked the fluid level, and to see if transmission fluid was leaking....but nothing worked.


We drove another 20 miles going about 35 mph as we discussed whether we should continue on to Houston or whether we should turn around and head back to Dallas.


Fito called the mechanic we had used that morning and he said he could look at the car the moment we got back to Dallas. That clinched it. We knew it would be nearly impossible to find another mechanic over the weekend. We also knew he was honest and fair, so we headed back.


The previous Sunday, after church, we had gone to help a family move and the transmission had slipped a couple of times that day. We hadn't really thought about it, but now we realized what was happening.


The Suburban is 4 wheel drive and we would not have made it back to Dallas without the second transmission. The transmission totally gave out at one point, so I switched it to 4 wheel drive, and we drove to Dallas that way. I still had to drive 35 miles per hour. It took us 3 hours to drive 80 miles.


Every now and then, it would catch again, and we could go faster for 1/2 a mile or so, but then it would slip and we would drag along. By the end of the trip, it was really dragging and I was so afraid that any minute I would lose it completely and we would have to be towed.


We dropped the children off at their cousins, borrowed an old vehicle they had in the driveway, and headed to the mechanic.


I drove the old vehicle to the mechanic and it was spewing hot air the whole way there. Apparently, it is a car they do not use, as it overheats, and they do not even have a sticker for it.


It was 103 degrees on Saturday, and I would guess it was 110 in that car. I was drenched wet with sweat by the time we reached the mechanic. There was also a hornets nest in the driver's side mirror and when I first started driving, they all came out, and so I closed the window so they would not blow into the car.


The only thing, though, is the other windows did not work. The car was so hot, and with the hot air blowing on my feet, it really was a burning sensation. I decided to take my chances with the hornets and opened the window again.


Well, we got to the mechanic. He drove the car. It would not even go in 2 wheel drive. We drove to another mechanic that rebuilds transmissions and arranged everything. This mechanic will pull the transmission, the other will rebuild it, and then our mechanic will put it back in.


I also need to mention that there could not have been a better time for the transmission to go out. we have the extra money this month. It happened on a long weekend, near a place where we have friends and family, near cheap parts, and mechanics.


Can you imagine if it had gone out on our trip to New York? When we had 10 people in the car? When we were far away from family and friends? Where we would have had to look for a motel, pay to eat out, find parts, and a mechanic?


We were really blessed to have it go out now...


They say they can do the whole thing for $1100, which is a lot less than I would have thought for a 4x4. We went in the burning up car to an ATM, where I could not remember my pin numbers for either debit card (can I blame it on stress? old age? or the fact I never use them? ) I went back to the car to get Fito's card, and he then realized his wallet was still in the Suburban.


We drove back to the mechanic, retrieved Fito's wallet, went to the ATM, took out $300 for a deposit on the transmission, took it back to the mechanic, and then headed to the cousins.


We were so afraid we were not going to make it back. The car was overheating...and its transmission was slipping, too! We did make it and when we stepped out of the car, the 103 degree weather actually felt cool!


Shower time! Neither of us had had a shower since Friday morning! Oh my goodness! The water felt so incredible! (No wonder Christ is called the living water....we are so grungy and dirty and he sooths and cleans us).


Sunday, Douglas, Ary, and Celeste were going to come to Dallas, but it didn't work out. We went to church with Kathy's family (our cousin's) and during the service, my phone went off!


How embarrassing! I even teach a Business Etiquette class. We had bought new phones on Thursday, and I thought I had turned off Fito's phone as well as mine. He said he was in the bathroom later and his went off?!?


The good thing is I had tried earlier to download "My Girl' by the Temptations for my ring tone. Can you imagine if it had started playing "My Girl" at church?


As I apologized later, one of the ladies said they would have just gotten up and danced...yea...right.


Oh well, I guess I need these experiences to keep me humble.


Sunday evening, we went with Kathy's family to a friend's home. They live up on a hill and you are able to see the different town's fireworks. They had BBQ chicken which was great! I got the recipe, but need to do it a couple of times until I have actual measurements for it. Then I will put it on my website.


There was also a gentleman that was playing the accordion so we had a sing-a-long while sitting on the hill watching the fireworks.


What a pleasant evening! Good food, good company, a beautiful view and great music. The music reminded me of my father. He used to sit at the piano and play old songs for hours. I would go to sleep with Dad at the piano, lulling me into the dream world.



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