We left Glacier later that day and headed back to Kentucky. We wanted to see some things we had never seen before so we laid out our route to go home a different way than the way we went there. We would go down thru Utah, see the great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City. It is really a big lake, supposedly you can swim in it and you can not sink, don’t know if that story is true or not as we did not take time to go swimming. Our trip was pretty much going really good until we were a few miles from Gunnison Colorado. I looked in the mirror and saw a lot of smoke and flames, pulled over really quick and ran to the passenger side of the camper and saw the rear tire was in flames and smoke rolling. Opened the camper door and grabbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out, it was the tire burning. We had been just driving along enjoying the beautiful scenery along the road. We were high above a large lake and a sign close by said we were in Black Canyon.
Got the jack out and raised the rear axle up and the wheel just wobbled on the spindle. The bearings were completely shot. Took it apart and was really lucky in that it did not hurt the spindle, but the hub and bearing assy was shot. The rear bearing race was frozen on the spindle and I tried everything to get it off but was not having any luck. There was no traffic going by and no phone service to call for help. I just did not have enough tools to get the race off of the spindle, I needed a chisel and did not have one in my tool box. About that time I looked up and a state road dept. pickup truck pulled up. The guy got out and asked if we needed help. I explained our problem and he said that he did not have any tools in his truck, except, he said he had just stopped up the road because he saw something laying in the middle of the road. He walked over to the bed of his truck and reached down and came up with what looked like a brand new orange colored chisel. It was not in a tool box or anything like that, just laying in the bed of his truck where he tossed it after picking it up from the road. He gave it to me and said this might help. It was exactly what I needed. He said he had to leave and when I ask him how I could return it to him he said just keep it because it was just laying in the road. I thanked him very much and went to work on the spindle. The chisel worked and it came right off with no damage to the spindle. We unhooked the camper so we could go into town to get parts to fix it but since we did not want to leave the camper on the side of the road in this remote area, so Karan got the 38 revolver and a chair and said she would sit and guard it while watching the lake until I got back. I headed off to Gunnison, I think it was about 5 or 6 miles and just as I got into town I saw a NAPA auto parts store. I just knew I could get the parts there but when I went in and showed them what I needed they said they could not help me. I ask them if anyone in town would be able to help me and they gave me a response that made me think they were just sending me on a wild goose chase. They told me to go to the Muffler Shop up the road. Well, I did go up there and turns out they build trailers and had all of the parts I needed. He ask me what happened and I told him the story. I did not even ask how much it would be because we had to have it. He came out with a brand new spindle, a set of bearings, a new seal, nut and cap. He said just wait a couple of minutes and he would put it all together for me and grease it up. I just knew this was going to cost me a fortune. The people in there were some of the nicest people I had ever met. In a few minutes he came out with everything put together and laid it on the counter. I ask how much I owed him and he looked up and said $29.00. I could not believe it, but he said they liked helping people when they could. Next I needed a new tire and rim but he did not have one in the size I needed so he sent me to a used tire store up the street. They had a good used one and charged me $10.00 for it. Amazing that we got everything we needed so cheap and from really nice people. I headed back to the camper and it did not take any time to get it put together and back on the road. We headed to Pueblo, Colorado to stay at the KOA campground there for a few nights as I had family that lived there, not knowing what was ahead of us on Hwy 50. Everything was so beautiful here, mountains, lakes and forest. We came upon what we would call a big hill in Kentucky, but here they call it a high mountain pass, very high.
We had come upon the largest mountain pass we have ever seen. Monarch Pass, 11,312 ft high.We headed up the mountain, a lot of trucks barely crawling up the mountain. We were doing ok but not very fast pulling the camper. By the time we got to the top we were only going about 20 mph with the gas pedal on the floor. There is a rest area at the top and it was very interesting. We learned that this is on top of the Continental Divide that separates the country, with one side being the Atlantic side and one side being the Pacific side. Definitely a place worth driving to just to see and experience it. We continued on to the KOA in Pueblo, Co for the night with no more surprises on the way there. We called our family and they came down to the campground to visit for a while.
The next day we packed up and headed for home in Kentucky. No more surprises the rest of the way home.
Check back for the continuing story.