A few years back I went down to Dublin, Georgia, to look at a 2000 Dodge conversion van with amazingly low mileage. The mechanic who checked it out told me, “If you don’t buy it, I will.” We bought it. We asked our Facebook fans to help name it, and after a lot of entertaining suggestions we settled on the Moon Pie.
The mileage isn’t low anymore. Since then the Moon Pie has traveled from Florida to Alberta and from Halifax to San Antonio. It has carried us through a blizzard in Montana and through the wilds of New York City.
Last month it developed a new sound, whooping like a 1950s space ship. The mechanic explained to me that the bearings had escaped from one of the rear wheels and got into the “hog house”, the big gear box in the rear of the van. They cleaned out the remains of the bearings, but the gears were damaged. His quote for new rear end was, at this point, more than the van was worth. “It could last you another 40,000 miles,” he said, “or it could last you four.”
After a fantastic gig Friday evening at the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville (thanks to everybody who came out, and especially those who wore their Delta Moon T-shirts), we were headed home Saturday morning when a new sound started, a rhythmic whumping from the back of the van. We considered stopping to have it checked, but where? There was no place. We decided there was nothing to do but continue on. The sound got worse and worse. Was this what a rear end sounded like when it was about to go? No, we learned on a mountainside about ten miles outside of Franklin, North Carolina. This was what it sounded like when a rear wheel was about to come off.
The back of the van dropped with a thud. Mark was able to steer, metal scraping asphalt, onto a side road. The wheel rolled past ahead of us and disappeared into the woods, where Franher later found and retrieved it. Nobody was hurt, and despite lots of waiting around in the hot sun nobody grouched. We dealt with the situation and managed to get home with all our gear before nightfall. This wasn’t our first tow truck experience and probably won’t be the last.
Now the Moon Pie sits forlorn in the parking lot of a North Carolina garage. Is this the end of the road for the old Dodge? Monday morning I’ll call the mechanic, and we’ll take it from there.