Our good luck with fuel purchases continued through Idaho and into Montana, where there were even more decisions to make. Never have I seen the diesel choices we were offered in Butte, Montana, and no zip code needed. And I was glad that the ‘backup’ Visa card was working as well.
The scenery was nice, and the cross-winds only got tricky a couple of times as we got closer to the border.
A final fill of the tank at Shelby, and we were ready to make a run for the border. There was zero line-up, and the questions were straightforward. I admitted that my canned beverage allowance might have been stretched a bit (!), and right on cue, Hailey did her little performance on the passenger side headrest designed to distract even the most dedicated customs officer! It worked, and we managed get away without the thumb screws or waterboarding, or even sleep deprivation.
It was starting to get dark, and with those thoughts of sleep deprivation still fresh in my mind, I decided that it was not worth trying to get anywhere in particular that night. On a secondary road, there was a decent parking lot that looked like it would be a quiet spot – if you don’t mind a lot of bird calls. Which reminds me – how is it that you can be rolling down the highway at the speed limit with all four windows down part way to stay cool, and the radio playing, and still hear a Meadowlark (I think?) just as loud and clear as if you had been stopped? You certainly don’t hear any other bird calls at highway speed. Several times I wanted to check and make sure Hailey had not hidden one in the cab, or see if one was hitching a ride north with us.
Curiously, the smoke was making little swirls as I watched it in the mirror. And it was coming from the rear wheels of the rig! Whoa, not good at all. I pulled off quickly onto a side road, and as I did so, I could see that the rear tire had an unusual wobble – also not very good. I made a mental note then and there that it is always a good idea to check the lug nuts on a wheel that has been recently replaced.
I drove it up on blocks to have a look, and was pleased to see that at least a fire extinguisher was not going to be needed. Then I grabbed the wheel and threw it in the back of the truck. Hey! Aren’t you supposed to need tools for this sort of thing? Apparently not, in this case.
I was in marginal cell coverage, but managed to contact a new shop in Lethbridge – Back Country RV Service who said to bring it right in. So, off we went on three wheels taking it very slow and checking for any overheating in the remaining tire on that side. Sixty km later we were at the shop where it was quickly determined what I already knew – that a wheel bearing had failed. I have no idea why, as I had them all re-packed last fall before departure, and check often for any unusual heat in the tires or hubs. Obviously, it could have been much worse if the wheel had come off and bounced into traffic, or if it was dark and I had not noticed – until the remaining tire gave out and blew up! Even so, the axle was damaged, and I got the bad news that one would have to be shipped from the factory in Indiana. Not really wanting to camp in an industrial area of Lethbridge for two weeks, important stuff was packed into the truck, and off we went on the final leg of the trip home, albeit making slightly better mileage.
Sounds like a good excuse for another road trip in a couple of weeks! The folks at the shop were very nice and helpful, so we hope to be able to write glowing reviews when the work is done … Keeping our fingers crossed.