stuck in San Antonio...
As some of you know, we had to replace the van's transmission a couple weeks ago. As we were leaving Atlanta for a disaster recovery volunteer week in Missouri, our hearts stalled in our throats as the van couldn't shift into third gear. We drove very slowly back to our friends' home, grateful this hadn't happened in rural Mexico. We missed the whole workcamp since it took a few days to rebuild the transmission, but now the van is ready for the next long haul, right? Nope, while they were working on the transmission, day 3 of them moving it around the lot and test driving, the van wouldn't start. This is a familiar problem, but we've replaced the battery, Phillip did some work on the starter - what next? Then it spontaneously started. So perhaps a fuel pump? Or ignition switch? Or ?
We took it to a new mechanic who said all they could do was start replacing parts, so they suggested we wait til it break all the way.
That happened last night in San Antonio. We are visiting my cousin, walking along the charming river and enjoying this beautiful climate and friendly community. Three people and three dogs piled back into the van at 9:30pm to drive back to my cousin's house for the night. We would get up before dawn to drive a few hours to the border and we were nervous about whether we'd be turned back for more dog paperwork, we weren't nervous about the van. But it wouldn't start. Definitely not the battery - Phillip checked and charged it from the solar panels just to be sure. Maybe we'd need a tow, but maybe it would spontaneously start again?
To enjoy the riverwalk we'd parked at a school, since it was evening and the lot was empty, just a block from the path. But not an appropriate place to park overnight. So Phillip and I decided to sleep in the van with the dogs as impound insurance, and my cousin called a friend for a ride home.
It was a noisy place to sleep (or to not sleep!), near train tracks. At 1am came loud pounding on the window and "police!" The officer shouted at us from outside as I explained why we were there. I was scared and assumed he was on extra alert after bombings in Austin. He asked us to come out with ID; I couldn't find my purse since we have to rearrange our junk to open the bed up for all five of us to sleep.
A second officer arrived and they shown outrageously bright lights on us as they barked questions about my cousin and our trip - I declined to give them her address - and ran our info through their computers. Without police records to our names, everything changed. A third officer arrived but they sent him/her away and their tones turned kind as they said we could sleep the rest of the night there but leave by 7am before school people arrive.
One officer even looked up some tow phone numbers and wrote down the name and address of the school.
Phillip never really went back to sleep. The school's fire alarms went off for what seemed like an hour and emergency vehicles responded without sirens.
Then the birds woke up. So we got up and brushed our teeth and wiped down with homemade baby wipes that we usually use on the dogs. We started calling tow companies but eother we had to be members (AAA) or they were in shift change (Texas Towing) or a 2-3 gour wait or no longer in service...In the meantime my cousin was working her network for tows or mechanics.
Peaceful place to shower, wash dishes, eat, repack.