Day three started out well and just got better. We pulled out of the Austin KOA and found a truck stop right away. The truck stop had a little Mexican taco stand attached but we didn’t want to wait ten minutes for food while the Edmund was occupying a pump. Fortunately there was a selection of home made breakfast tacos available at the cash register. We stocked up on tacos, ice, and beverages and were back on the road after a blessedly trouble-free refueling.

We made good time around Austin, though we felt a twinge of regret as we were passing it. Our original plan was to spend a month there after ten days at South Padre Island, but with the new problems that had reared their misbegotten heads since we picked up the Edmund from the shop (dead refrigerator, basement flood) we’d decided to bag Austin and stay in South Padre until we had them sorted out. If there was time, we could come back to Austin and spend some days there, but we didn’t want to get our hopes up. We felt a little twinge of regret rolling past San Antonio too, we were supposed to spend two days there exploring the River Walk and seeing the Alamo.

We passed Corpus Christi and entered a long stretch of emptiness, still making good time. The day was going well, we’d availed ourselves of opportunities to take breaks and had plenty of food and drink aboard. It looked like we’d make it to South Padre before the sun went down.

We were twenty miles from our destination, just passing through Los Fresnos, and were pulling up to virtually the last stop light before we arrived at the Big Water when the Honda, apparently tired of being dragged for three days, decided to make a break for it. As we pulled up to the stop light I felt a THUMP at the rear of the Edmund. The backup camera showed the Honda nuzzling the back bumper instead of sitting six feet away at the end of the tow rig. I glanced to my left to check out the side view mirror and saw a carload of people looking at me and pointing frantically at the back of the Edmund.

We bailed out and ran around to the Honda. It was rush hour in Los Fresnos, such as it was; traffic was stacking up and the horns were honking, which didn’t lend itself to a thoughtful evaluation of the situation. We were right in front of a gas station and a couple of guys ran out to see if they could help. I needed to get the tow bar out from under the Edmund so I could see what had happened. I got in the Honda, moved the transmission from Neutral to Park so I could start the engine and back up a few feet. Nothing happened when I turned the key. By this time the guys were attempting to push the Honda away from the Edmund, so I tried to shift back to Neutral. The transmission was locked. At this point, I’m thinking, “We’ve burned out the transmission!” I got back in the Edmund and pulled it a few feet forward so we could get to the tow harness.

When I got of of the Edmund the police were there, directing traffic around the—I have to say it—Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. One of the guys from the gas station helped me disassemble the tow harness and stow it in a basement compartment of the Edmund. There didn’t seem to be any obvious damage to the harness but one of the locking pins was missing, the one that attached the RV hitch to the harness.

At that point, in a statement of the blindingly obvious, one of the officers told me we had to get out of the street. He said I could pull the Edmund around the corner and park it anywhere along the curb and then told me there were two towing companies nearby, one on the other side of the street, and one a few blocks away. So I asked him to call the closest one and got back in the Edmund to pull around the corner as the wrecker from right across the street was firing up to move out. Sure enough, plenty of room to park. Who says you can’t find a parking space when you need to?

By the time I got back to the Honda, the wrecker had already pulled up in front of it. The guy didn’t think the transmission was the problem; he thought the battery was dead. He knew a trick about inserting something at the base of the gearshift to unlock the transmission (the Gear Shift Release) and in five minutes he had it on the wrecker and across the street.

We explained to the police officer what had happened and he said we were were good to go, no harm, no foul. I walked back up the street in the direction we’d come from and after about 100 yards found the missing locking pin. The cotter pin was gone.

We crossed back to the garage the wrecker was from. They reiterated that they thought the battery was the problem and told us they’d keep the car overnight and let us know what was up in the morning. We got back in the Edmund and drove the last twenty miles to South Padre Island, uninterrupted by further catastrophe. We hooked up at the South Padre Island KOA, called our relatives to say we’d arrived alive, and went to the campground restaurant for a meal of rum, tequila, and fried oysters with coconut shrimp for me and shrimp tacos for Nan. Happy Valentine’s Day, Nan!

Then home to the Edmund where we admired the view and fell asleep with visions of Honda Fits dancing in our heads. We don’t have to go anywhere for ONE WHOLE DAY!

– Poppa

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