Half-marathon report (part III - the journey home)

This will be the briefest of the trilogy, I hope. Thanks for reading this much. . . .

OKay, so Monday night, after the post-race party (at Flatlanders, which has a couple decent house brews), we finally get on the road. The rain has continued all day, and it's going to be trailing us, on us, or ahead of us for the whole ride home.

We get twenty miles from my in-laws, almost down to the O'Hare Oasis, and the "Check Engine" light comes on. We pull off at the oasis, and I pop the hood. It's dark, it's raining, and I'm trying to hold the hood up with one hand and check fluids, belts, etc with the other. (The car has never, in the time that I have had it, had anything to hold the hood up. It's missing. And boy, you really get bugged by it when trying to open a hot radiator cap - cause you can't see the levels in the dark and rain, and you need to check. I'm glad that diapers are pretty thick, however.)

I'm out there for 5-10 minutes, and can't find anything wrong. Wife is checking the owner's manual, which is full of dire warnings like "Your transmission may fail at approximately 105,000 miles" (we're at 101,700 or so), and "If the 'Check Engine' light begins to flash, STOP IMMEDIATELY, because CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE to the catalytic converter may occur."

So, rather than make the 210+ mile journey, in the rain, with the "Check Engine" light on, with a pregnant wife and a 2 1/2 year-old, we decide to head back to her parents.

This turns out to be a wise choice. I take the car in to their favorite mechanic as early as possible on Tuesday morning, and several hours later, I get the bad news: "Check Engine" in this case meant "The transmission is going to die. Soon. Possibly already. Hope you enjoyed having one, cause you won't have it much longer."

The good news is that it could be a fairly "inexpensive" repair (in this case, $500 or so) - change a couple fairly minor parts, or it could be expensive, and mean that a new (or rebuilt) transmission is required.

Bear in mind that the car is at best worth only $1000 or so at this point (due to age, mileage, a big honkin' dent in the bumper, etc), and you can see the dilemma. We had been planning on replacing my car next year, since it won't fit two car seats well (space-wise, it's okay, but it predates the latch system, and seats by the door feel loose and wobbly - so I don't trust them anywhere but in the middle of the back seat). So, it looks like we're going to be looking for a new car, but the jury is still out on that one.

Fortunately, we manage to miss most of the construction traffic when we get on the road last night, and we finally get home at about midnight - in a borrowed car (well, minivan), and dead tired. Fun fun fun - but at least we got home safe, and I set a major PR.


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