So, we started out on the first of the month, which I think was Wednesday, and drove without any problems (except it was fricking HOT) all the way to Rapid City, SD and grabbed a nice hotel room. The next morning, problems started. To get to Mt. Rushmore, one must drive in the mountains, which means lots of work for an overloaded '88 Dodge wagon. We were a few hundred feet from the entrance to the parking lot when we heard this popping noise like we ran over a water bottle, and water splashed up onto our windshield, and the car lost serious power. I managed to get it into a parking spot (which took a bit of doing since the guy we bought the parking permit for kept talking to us and I couldn't understand why he couldn't see that my engine was steaming) and we walked around looking at Rushmore for a little bit to give it time to cool down. We came back and found the problem: the top hose leading from the radiator to the engine had a huge gash in it. I have no idea how that happened. I suppose the hoses were rather old, but it was amazing to me that it had that much damage. The gash was a good two or three inches long. Nicoal and I found some duct tape and wrapped the hose in it and then drove down the mountain with the radiator cap loose, and made it to an auto parts store just fine, and replaced the hose ourselves and set off, feeling much better.
However, that's not the best part of the story. Eight miles west of Columbus, Montana (don't know where that is? That's OK, me either) my car started making a horrible banging noise as we went up one of the foothills of the Rocky mountains, and I pulled over. Some old ladies who smoked way too much stopped just as we were getting out to look at the engine, and they drove us into Columbus, where Nicoal (thank GOD!) pulled out her AAA card and got us a towtruck to pick us up and tow us into Bozeman, which was about 100 miles away, for free. We got to Columbus at a little before 6:30pm, and it was 107 degrees. Oy. So we waited on the streetcorner for the towtruck, and the guy that drove us was weird and talked to us about his life and how he used to be an alcoholic but he wised up, and how he works so much that he can't keep a girlfriend, and stuff like that. He dropped off our car at an auto repair place which was right across the street from a hotel, and we spent the night there.
The next morning when the car place opened up, we went over there and started the car for the guy, and I didn't even have it on for more than two seconds when he made me turn it off and said "your engine is shot. Only thing you can do to fix it is buy a new engine." I'm actually really surprised that I wasn't that upset. I kind of had a feeling that it wouldn't last much longer, I just wished it would have broken down in Portland. So we ran back to the hotel and called my dad and looked at a few different options, and the cheapest option was for him to rent a car, drive it to Bozeman, pick up all my stuff and Nicoal and I, and drive back to Portland. So that's what we did. While we were waiting for him, Nicoal and I went to the Sweet Pea Festival, which was a few blocks away. We saw a really cool dance/gymnastics group called The Second Hand, which was really neat, and we listened to a few songs by a Celtic pop group, which was OK but it was raining and we had tank tops on and were a bit chilly so we went back to our hotel. Dad got there at half past 2am, and the next morning (this morning), we drove back. I signed the car over to the owner of the car place, and that's where it will stay forevermore. Although I'm sure they'll use it for parts because everything but the engine is in really good shape. The radiator's new and the tires are almost new, etc. I almost wish I could have gotten some money out of it, but I'm just glad that I was able to get rid of it.
So I'm back in Portland now... more on that later... I'm kind of having mixed feelings...