So… to continue our unlucky day…
We had nearly made it to Rapid City when the clutch went out. I had been feeling something strange so we were getting off the freeway when I put the pedal to the floor with no resistance. Suddenly the motorhome was stuck in neutral. I got a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach as we coasted into a nearby gas station.
The priorities can change fast on a road trip. All of a sudden, getting to Rapid City, which had been our only concern, no longer mattered. The only thing we could think was: What’s wrong with the motorhome?? How serious is this?? It was a cold night and the wind was relentlessly penetrating through my jeans and sweatshirt, but Nate and I had to figure something out. With help over the phone from my friend Cody (remember the mechanical engineer from Seattle??) we discovered that the clutch was leaking in two places. Having fluid in the clutch line provides the resistance you feel when you press the pedal down, and the leaks had allowed air to enter the line. The air had to be bled for the fluid could replace it. This is no easy job for a hack mechanic in the middle of the night, but it’s what we did.
Squeezing under the motorhome, which sits very low to the ground, with cold wind blowing, was about the least fun part of the trip so far. It was late, 10 at night, and I was tired, cold, and claustrophobic. There was so little space that when I turned my head to look up at the components my glasses hit something and fell off. My chest was stuck between the frame and the ground. It was miserable. But we got it done… and what’s more, it worked! We could drive again! Of course, it still didn’t address the very real problem of a continuing leak.
Finally we got to Rapid City, where Nate and I were to part ways. He would fly to Chicago, visit his family, and then fly home. I would continue the trip alone.