©Bert Gildart: We’ve been home for almost a week, but have been so swamped with problems and sad news that we’ve had no time for postings.
For starters, just after backing our Airstream into its protective shed, we opened the slider to facilitate unpacking. No problem – not until I attempted to close it. Half way in I got diverted by a telephone call. When I returned I hit the wrong switch, the one activating the paddle latches, the latches that, when engaged, prevent the slider from bouncing free as one is traveling. Though I’ve made that mistake before, this time it caused the slider to freeze, and no amount of cajoling would close it. That night I closed the slideout by going outside, removing the 10 screws that allow the hinged cover to swing down. Then, I used a wrench to crank (as Airstream directs) the shaft that manually moves the slide in our out. It’s an emergency procedure, and took about 10 minutes.
Next day (Monday) I called Airstream and they planted some ideas, but it wasn’t until I shared those ideas with my neighbor (far more sophisticated with electronics than am I) that the problem was resolved. Hutch discovered that in the recess created when the paddle latches are extended that there’s a tiny pin. The pin needs to make contact with another device (which it does when the paddle latches are closed) to complete the circuit. Though the mistake I made is a common one, one I’ve made before as have others, this time my mistake apparently caused a very slight bend in the pen, thus preventing it from making the connection. Once Hutch discovered the problem, the remedy was achieved by bending the pine just slightly, allowing, then, the circuit to be completed.
The other frustrating news concerns our transmission, which also decided to go out on our return. Dodge makes an excellent diesel engine and is famous for its Cummings brand, but they paired it with a transmission that others have also had trouble with. I was aware of the potential but still, it’s a shock when Dodge repair people say you have three options as follows: One, repair the old transmission for $2,200; two, replace the transmission with a brand new one for $3,000-plus; three, replace the old transmission with a beefed up new transmission for $4,000-plus. We opted for the second option, but only after learning we might have to wait for several months for a beefed-up transmission.
Repair people say that in the future, they’re going to recommend we change transmission oil every 20,000 miles rather than the recommended 30,000. That’s because we use our vehicle for so much towing. They assure us we should get well over 300,000 on our Cummings engine, and hopefully a lot more out of this, our second transmission. Too bad, I told them they had not paired the Cummings with GMC’s Allison transmission, which has reputation as being of the same quality as the Cummings.
Finally, we returned home to discover that one of my older friends, Loren Kreck, had passed away. (Here’s a report from the Missoulian.) He was an icon in the valley. In World War II, he had been a young fighter pilot. Later, he had returned to dental school and then moved to the Flathead were he worked as an orthodontist. He was a member of The Wilderness Society and was active as skier. He was an avid canoeist and spent months traveling wilderness rivers in Canada. He was a senior hockey player as was Charles Schultz (author of Peanuts), whom he once played against.
Yesterday, we attended his memorial service and though sad, we saw many good friends — as Loren would have wanted. Many shared stories, and Doug Chadwick told a story about a month-long camping trip he made to a remote island off the coast of Baja, California. During the trip, Loren was bitten on the thumb by a bark scorpion. Absolutely no help was available so Loren did the only thing he could do. He got into his kayak and paddled with one arm for most of the day, dangling his arm in the salt water, which seem to cleanse.
Like everyone else, we’ll miss Loren, a man with whom Janie and I have cross-country skied and shared many a dinner, enjoying his stories of adventure and his sense of humor – good up to the last breath. (Loren’s last meal was popcorn and a beer. )
On the flip side, the celebration brought together in one setting several hundred people, many of whom we seldom see. As life-long friend Lou Bruno said, “Seems the only time we see all our friends is at funerals and at weddings. “
THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO: