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September 1, 2019

Havana, Illinois. 6th September


Not the best start of for our two months away. I mentioned in the last blog how the van started the first time but after sitting in the campsite for a day all it would do was cough and wheeze when started. That was on the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend and of course nothing was to happen until the first day back, Tuesday. Chad, the bloke who serviced the bakkie in our absence kept putting us off and I think had lost interest in our situation. On the Tuesday I rang a mobile diesel mechanic who duly appeared, changed the fuel filters that Chad had said were not available in the US. Tried it but still the same. That was US$441 worth. But he did call the Mack tow truck which turned up and soon had the van on the back and us clambering mountaineering-like into the cab.

Our sprits were decidedly low. However, at the workshop, Nick, a young mechanic, came out, introduced himself, asked what year the bakkie was, and with no further ado, grabbed a couple of spanners, and started fiddling. Remember this type of vehicle is not sold in USA, there was no diagnostic plug, and so he was flying blind.

Fifteen minutes later, the motor was idling beautifully, revving well and ready for a test run. Things were looking brighter. But it was evident to Nick something was still not right. It lacked power. No acceleration. By now it was late and they needed to keep at it the next day. The dropped us off at the nearest motel, a Motel 8. Now Joan has always been disparaging of this hotel chain but it was roomy, clean, comfortable bed and friendly staff. Could’ve done with a couple more pillows but we did have a TV remote. Kenneth, the Uber driver said his experience with a Motel 8 stay included not even a TV remote.

I called the workshop a couple of times the next day only to hear bad news. But they were persevering and even had the big boss over to give advice. In the meantime I started looking at hire car agencies, as we needed to get to Boston to meet Adam on the 12th. I also started looking up local car wreckers. What a terrible way for the bakkie to end its life! We had faith in these mechanics and I didn’t think anyone else could do a better job but one had to be practical.

Juan phoned us early the next day, Thursday and I could tell by by the sound of his voice he had good news. Problems solved. It all comes back to storing the bakkie in a non temp-controlled shed for over 12 months in below zero temperatures for weeks on end. In that situation the diesel takes on a turpentine appearance and changes its viscosity. It becomes more sludge like and that clogs up the filters, pump, the works. They took out the tank, emptied it, put another fuel filter in as the ones put in the day before were full of the sludge. Replaced a couple of fuel line that were cracking causing air to creep in and bypassed one of the fuel filters as the pump on it was dicey. We were ecstatic.

So, at ten yesterday morning we hit Interstate 80. A shit of a road as it’s full of semis, but so good to be moving. We stayed the night at Rock Creek state park and today branched off onto the local roads and experienced some of Small Town America. Many lovely places with their spired court houses and clean streets.

Havana is one such place. There is a delightful little campsite here over watched by Deb. Perched on the banks of the Illinois River metres from the broad river. A tug boat went up river not long after we arrived pushing 15 barges, five long and three wide each 20 metres in length. It was an amazing sight. This is Oktoberfest weekend in Havana and the festivities started off tonight with a parade. Very lively and enough candies thrown from the floats to ruin the most shiniest of kids teeth. There were feed and trinket stalls up town. Also a MAGA stall filled with Trump insignia. It was pleasing to see no buyers of goods in there the two times we walked past.






A Model of the Book Depository and Elm Street With Bullet Trajectory.


The JFK Memorial Near the Book Depository


The Window From Where Oswald Fired


Book Depository in Background. Old Court House in Right. From Hotel


The Sliced Lady


Kevin Keen to See Joan. Where We Stored Bakkie

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