After our glorious weekend at Glacier, we returned to Great Falls where I worked a few days while waiting on a complete new transmission to get flown in compliments of Subaru (the previous dealer had failed to discover a loose part rolling around inside the transmission which had done all the damage, so they deemed the entire transmission defective and needing replacement). Mom had run out of paperback novels, but was thrilled to find plenty more at the Sam's Club in town. Meanwhile, Millie discovered a new river to swim in-- the Missouri!
Try as I could to be patient waiting for parts to arrive, our vacation had now stretched out nearly a week longer than had planned, and Mom and I both had obligations to attend to back home within the upcoming week. After daily update calls between Bob and Jody, and my transmission getting shipped to Minneapolis instead of Great Falls, it was now time to cut our losses and get home. Jody agreed and said for me to go ahead and make plans to go home and that Subaru would ship me back my car once it got repaired.
I first tried to rent a truck or SUV that might be able to tow both us and the T@B home, but no such luck-- rental companies don't want you towing anything behind their vehicles. So, next I looked into getting a one-way car rental for us and shipping options for the T@B. I only found one rental car company willing to do a one-way rental, but fortunately it was Avis, and would be easy for me to drop off in Chicago.
For the trailer shipping, I found an online service, uship.com, that lets individuals bid out their shipping jobs to small, independent carriers (a booming business with all the eBay car and boat sales going on around the country). I posted my shipping job, and within a couple hours was getting a number of bids from drivers with pick-up trucks who specialized in hauling boats and RVs cross-country. I selected one who said they could pick up my T@B the next night.
We picked up the rental car (a big cushy Chevy Impala ideal for a 2000-mile road trip!), and then met up with a very friendly driver named Dave who would take my T@B back to Illinois. He was a retired guy helping out his son-in-law who had just started their shipping business. Dave was so thrilled to be towing my cute little T@B that he even asked to take a picture of us in front of it hooked up to his brand new pickup truck. He started on his way that evening, while we returned to the hotel.
The next morning, we left Great Falls and headed for home across the vast wheat fields of central Montana. As we rolled into Billings (and back into cell phone service), I had a voice mail from the son at the shipping firm asking me to call right away.
I couldn't believe what he told me, it was so surreal. Mom and I had worried about getting the Subaru back and wondering if it's transmission would blow again on the way home, so when it turned out that we'd be driving a rental car home and getting the T@B shipped, all our worries had seemed to disappear. But now, the shipping firm was telling me that there'd been "a terrible accident"....and my T@B was completely destroyed!
Dave had been driving on the interstate in eastern Wyoming doing the speed limit of 75 when he came over a ridge to find a dump truck in his lane only doing 35 mph. He drove off the shoulder of the road, flipping his new truck and the T@B so severely that the T@B's tow bar sheared in half at the hitch. The truck and the T@B were completely destroyed, but fortunately, Dave suffered only minor injuries.
It took a few days for us to finally get connected and hear what had happened (then it took weeks to sort it all out with the insurance companies). But, finally, it appeared that our lightening had finally struck three times on this vacation, and our bad luck was finally over!