Life on the Oregon Trail

October 5, 2016 — 6 Comments

Facebook and the other popular social media platforms reward the most braggadocious of posters. Look at my fancy life, and my fancy car, and my fancy restaurants and vacations. Why yes, my life is always like this and there are never issues…

Well, social media is a bunch of crap and the braggadocious posters are full of themselves. Besides me, of course.

If you’ve followed along on Facebook, you’ve noticed we’re currently broken down in Louisville, KY. We had issues in the past with the transfer case on our 4Runner, but hoped it was resolved with a fixed seal and more fluid. However, it reared its ugly head again last week when we started our journey. Shortly after a stopover in Tulsa, when we accelerated under load, we heard a loud bang from under the hood.

As my brother in law said, it sounded like someone hitting two wrenches together when I accelerated. It got worse the further we went, but luckily we made it to their house in Louisville safely. We took it to Toyota last Friday, got a $4,500 quote to replace the transfer case and decided to try another place, Aamco. However, Toyota managed to get it stuck in four wheel “low”, but luckily Aamco was close so I drove down a busy road at a similar pace of oxen pulling a wagon.

Aamco takes weekends off and got to it on Monday. Well not really, they did a few things on Monday. Then he said he’d have a diagnosis on Tuesday. Tuesday came and went and finally at the end of the day he told me the new issue – in addition to the transfer case, the actuator was bad. The price quickly jumped to $7k for new parts and $6k to rebuild. We settled on used parts for $3,500. Holy crap, our car is hardly even worth that!

Hard decision, do we scrap it now or fix the issue? I called a salvage shop and they said they’d give me $125 cash. Not missing any zeros, they literally said $125. So we decided to chance it with the salvaged parts and now we’re waiting on it to get shipped from North Carolina so it’s hopefully fixed by Monday.

Long term damage was done the first time when the transfer case fully ran out of gear oil and now we paid for it. It’s the Oregon trail equivalent of a broken axle.



As we’ve been waiting for our wagon to repaired, Lucy got dysentery or maybe cholera. She had a weird lump appear on her hind leg and as we have plenty of time, we took her to the vet. It wasn’t a scary tumor, but it did require minor surgery to drain it and a tube to keep it draining.

We took her home and kept her on the porch because you know, she was still draining. We didn’t have her cone of shame on yet because it’s so torturous and went inside for a few seconds… and came back out and she had pulled her tube out!! AHHH! We took her back in the next morning and they removed the stitches and told us to keep her in the cone and wipe the wound so it doesn’t seal up for a day.

Our new landlord, Julie, recommended using a pair of boxers to keep her off of it. I think once we stay for more than a few days, we become tenants, but I don’t know the exact rules in Kentucky.

Lucy wasn’t thrilled with her new cone of shame and boxers. Last night her boxers kept falling off so I made her some suspenders that tied her boxers to her collar… I’ll spare her the pain of sharing that picture.



We feel a little beat up and the worst part is not having an exact date of when the car will be ready and how healthy it will be once it’s completed. We’re on the verge of looking for a new(er) car, but you probably know how much I hate going into to debt for a car purchase, so I’m balking on that. If the 4runner dies, we’ll have to figure something out… sell some stock or something. Of course, I had somewhat built this into the plan as a possibility of happening, but it’s not fun when it actually does.

We’re hoping the not so fun stuff will end soon and we can get back on the road and catch the leaves changing in Maine… we checked today and peak season has arrived up north. And soon enough, I’ll be posting perfect pictures of our Airstream and Lucy in front of beautiful mountains, forests, seafront cafes and beaches, and acting like we have no problems in the world.

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6 responses to Life on the Oregon Trail

  1. Thomas Lockwood October 6, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Just curious, how many miles on your 4runner? And what year? It looks just like mine – I have a 2008 with just 48,000 miles on it, curious of it’s future. I also plan to get a about a 3,500 pound small travel trailer, but mine is only a v6. Any insights welcome. Cheers, Tom

    • Thomas – we have 197k miles on it! It’s a 2003 4×4 with a v8 engine. I’ve heard of people pulling with a V6, but you should probably check the towing specs on it. Our 4Runner has been really good (besides this transfer case issue)

  2. Good luck. You’ll have to learn to be an expert mechanic so you can make these fixes yourself!

  3. Alonso Hernandez October 10, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Oh Man, it’s such a bummer the car failure and Lucy’s tumor, they said bad things come into packages.

    Hopefully you’ll get good news on both fronts and continue your amazing journey. Hang in there guys, the best is yet to come!

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