Took off Saturday morning, June 27th, and was on the road about 8am. Tim and Nathan were riding their motorcycles and I was following in the van. The weather website showed high temps for the day to be in the mid 80's and a light breeze for the drive. Of course, beings as Van Halen has just gotten some work done, I took my time and kept an eye on the heat gauge and was aware of any weird noise or smell. The temperature gauge stayed steady and kept the motor cooled, all was well on that part.
We did have to stop quite often as Nathan's cycle could only go about 90 miles per small tank of gas. It was okay, there was no rush, and the doggies got to pee on a lot of trees this way, haha.
Got to Arkansas about 2pm, and we were staying at friend's of Tim's, who would be riding their motorcycles the next day. Mike and Debbie were some very cool people I had the pleasure of meeting, very welcoming. Their beautiful home was a few miles from their town. It sat back off the road and had tons of beautiful trees:
Hotrod loved it, haha. So many trees to pee on!! *woof!*
The evening was nice, we hung out in their backyard by the pool and got to soak in the aroma of beercan chicken on the grill. Food was awesome that night. Our hosts pretty much turned over the top floor, and slept very well. Surprising, as I usually don't sleep well in strange beds.
The next morning we were off.
The plan was to drive the Mt. Magazine Scenic Bypass, all four of them on their motorcycles, me following in Van Halen. I took some pics of them going down the road, forgive my dirty windshield, I took these while driving, haha:
I will admit, the drive was a bit hairy. I had a few concerns over the step inclines and hairpin turns while descending, but was assured all was okay with Van Halen and just give 'er hell while driving up the mountain. So I did. ;)
Drove a few cities over from Mt. Magazine and had lunch. The doggies did really good for all they went through, being stuck in Van Halen with me, haha. Here is a few pics of them:
Hotrod riding shotgun, haha. And:
Chevy, on the floor behind the seats, pissed off cause she got ejected from riding shotgun from Hotrod. :) They both did really, really good.
After lunch we split ways with Mike and Debbie, I hope I thanked them enough for their hospitality. Both really cool people. They headed back their way to their home, we went south towards Mena, Arkansas to traverse the Tahemina National Scenic Byway. I still had to do the HulaJohn planting, and decided that the top of the mountain at Queen Wilhelmina State Park would be a pretty place. It was still in Arkansas state, the Oklahoma boarder not that far away.
This neat looking place was there, mountains in the background, trees all around. Notice Chevy next to that short pillar that is a water fountain? That's where I planted the HulaJohn:
After this there was a bit of engine trouble. I suppose Van Halen's transmission didn't much care for all the extra load on it in the heat and I guess the exertion caused a seal to bust, she was bleeding pretty bad. Had a quart of tranny fluid, and she leaked right back out. Grabbed a pic of the scenery though. ;)
Decided to try to limp her back down the mountain and try to find a town. Did get a mile or two before I felt the tranny slipping and pulled off the road. It was leaking pretty bad at this point and not even showing fluid on the stick. So, me and the doggies decided to chill where we were at and the dudes took off to find a town for more tranny fluid.
Imagine if you will, a spot off the side of the road with tall trees all around you, it's quiet and peaceful, you have the windows rolled down, the side door open, the back doors open, there's a gentle breeze. You plug up your 12v fan, make sure doggies have plenty of water, and then proceed to chill at the back on the bed and read a book. For all the worry going on in my head, that little bit of respite was heaven!!
Well, anyway, it didn't end up terrible. The motor cooled down enough by the time the dudes got back I guess the tranny decided to be nice to me. The next town, Heavener, Oklahoma, was about 20 miles away, all downhill for the most part. Decided to keep fluid in it, keep checking it, take it easy and just get her there. It barely leaked after that. Found a flea bag motel that allowed doggies, and slept on hard beds.
The next day the plan was to take it slow, keep checking, leave out early to avoid the bulk of the hot weather, and just try to get it within tow range of some place that could handle it. But actually, didn't have nary a problem with the tranny, other than it kept dying on me when I put it in reverse. The fluid stayed good the next 315 miles, even though the temps got up in mid 90's. Didn't slip anymore, either. There will have to be a repair done on the seal and such, and find out why it dies in reverse, but am hoping it's not going to be a replacement, just repair. We shall see. But Van Halen got me home, by gosh! :D Tim and Nathan were suffering the heat pretty bad by the time we got back to our town, and that many days on end with lots of ride time they were both pretty well beat.
Three days, Arkansas, DONE!
*note to self: next time, think twice about big mountains in late June heat*