US Road Trip Epilog: 6th June 2005

Quality Inn car park
The car park at the Quality Inn in the morning. Guess who doesn't look out of place for once?

Two things have become obvious:

My attempts to control the level of transmission fluid in the car have been hampered by the fact that I was checking the level with the engine cold and not running (as you would with the engine oil). I was doing this despite the writing on the transmission dipstick that tells you to have the engine idling. I think I need to take the car to an expert.

A call round the local transmission places reveals that they're all really busy on a Monday morning and that most want nothing to do with a '63 car. One name keeps getting recommended - Irwin & Dunbar Transmission Service - so that's where we head early in the afternoon.

I thought I'd overfilled the transmission but they find it to be 2 quarts (about 2 litres) short of fluid. They also find where it's leaking from. When I had the radiator removed in Utah to replace the water pump on the original road trip he'd cut the pipes that lead into the radiator for the transmission cooling. These had been replaced with rubber hoses which had then subsequently failed in Nebraska and been replaced with compression joints. One of these was now leaking.

Gary at Irwin & Dunbar gets the leak fixed then takes the time to demonstrate how and when to check the fluid level. I've now another task to add to my daily oil, coolant and tire pressure checks, the difference being that this one should be done with the engine hot and running so it's an end-of-day check rather than a morning one. $20 later we're back on the road. Like so many others along the way, the guys at Irwin & Dunbar want to know all about the car and really respond to the whole road trip idea.

With the transmission working it's time to revisit Verizon Wireless to add some money to my cellphone - I can't do it by calling them and using my credit card as I'm not a US citizen, which is annoying. Then off to see Lynn Jr. at Hollis Neff & Bomke Insurance to sort out a few things that may be necessary later in the road trip (the current insurance will expire before the planned end). He's as friendly and helpful as ever, and wants to give the car a good look over before I leave. It's a bit different from dealing with the personality-challenged drones at most UK insurance companies.

With all that done, time for some sightseeing. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum was due to open the week after I left the US last time and it's now up and running.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

I must admit I'm not really that impressed, given all the hype. There's too much emphasis on sit-down shows for my liking, and the walkways are so narrow that you can't read all the panels without someone standing right in front or trying to get past. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. The recreation of the front of the White House and the log cabin he grew up in are quite impressive though.

Things improve that evening with the final game of 7 in the basketball semi-final between the Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat. Having lived near Detroit when I was a kid I feel obliged to support their teams in sports. This can be very depressing when watching baseball or (American) football. Things improve, however, when ice hockey or basketball are involved. The match is a good one - I'm no great fan of basketball but the more I watch it the more I understand - and the Pistons go through to the final. Result!

US Road Trip Epilog: 7th June 2005 >