Damned Transmission!

We spent a cool and restful night in the Bighorn Mountains, then descended the eastern slope towards Sheridan, Wyoming, where we restocked our food and propane, and more important, bought Western straw hats, de rigeur for summer in these parts. Our destination was Devil’s Tower National Monument, not for any particular reason except that Jennifer and Mike stopped there on their way west ten years earlier.

After an uneventful drive through wide open Wyoming under warm, sunny skies, we approached Devil’s Tower, where we saw vehicles lined up for two miles on the approach road to the monument. Did we really want to go in? No. We turned aside and continued toward a campground in Spearfish, South Dakota.

2018-07-03 23.01.47

The campground was nothing to write about, but it had hookups, a laundry room, and a pool. With the dogs safely cooling inside the camper in air conditioned luxury, we cooled off at the pool, and I washed some laundry after dinner. Early night, lots of rest.

The next morning we started early and rolled back onto Interstate 90. No problems—until as we neared Rapid City, the CHECK ENGINE light came on, the speedometer suddenly dropped to zero, the cruise control shut down, and the transmission dropped out of overdrive. We were close to an exit, so I pulled off to figure out what just happened. I was about to call for a tow, until I realized I had no idea where to tow it. Searching the area, I found we were only 12 miles from a Dodge dealer in Rapid City. I called and talked to the service manager, and described the situation to him. He said it would be safe to drive there unless CHECK ENGINE was flashing (it was not). I made arrangements to bring the camper there, we gassed up, and drove on.

We spent the next 24 hours attempting to get the problem fixed, with mixed results. After replacing one part with a new one shipped overnight from Sioux Falls, the speedometer still didn’t work, but it was confirmed safe to drive. We spent the night with the dogs at a nearby hotel with an indoor water park and a pretty good restaurant.

water park

The maintenance manager went out of her way to help us, even climbing up into our camper, which was stuck on their lift because they underestimated its weight, to retrieve our gear for the hotel. After a service call from the lift distributor, our camper was freed from the garage, we paid our bill, and left for Pine Ridge.

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