I left my heart in San Antonio

Published on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 in ,

More aptly this post should be titled "My heart left for San Antonio". Sheila's latest rotation is Ob/Gyn in that wonderful lone star city. Naturally, she's staying on the "wrong" side of town. Actually, she doesn't even have a place to live! I'm really not happy with DMU and the management of their rotation program. I think this might have been one of the rotations where Sheila had landed a Des Moines location, but it got taken away because there weren't enough spots, or because one of the doctors pulled out of the program. In general, there just aren't enough doctors offering to take students in Des Moines. This is a perplexing practice, because you are just shooting yourself in the foot by failing to train your replacement.

Anyway, this rotation was found by Sheila, but doesn't come with a food stipend or place to live, so we have to pay for it completely out of pocket, and find our own place to live. But Sheila called a week before the rotation to try to find a room through the people she would report to, and they kinda blew her off. Nice! So we booked a hotel for a few nights in the hopes of finding something cheaper quickly.

Ok so I need to backup a bit, because if I don't explain this right, you're never going to believe it. Actually, if you know us at all, of course you'll believe it, because it's a typical crazy Drink and Sheila travel story (Link to map). Friday night, Sheila came back from Storm Lake, IA - her surgical rotation. Saturday was the only chance that we had to pickup Wolfie from the St Louis area, and try as I might, I couldn't convince Sheila not to go with me. I completely understand of course, because she wanted to be there to meet our new pup, or she wouldn't meet him for a month. Secretly, I was glad she went with me, as time together is a rare commodity these days. So we drive 5.5 hours each way with Winnie in the back of the car to pickup Wolfie. Thank goodness Wolfie was an excellent traveler on the way back and didn't need to stop too often! On Sunday, Sheila leaves for San Antonio, which by itself is a 15-16 hour drive. Our Nepali friends Ravi and Devi live in Texarkana, TX, so Sheila is going to stop by on her way through to visit them for a couple hours. Well there really is no direct route from Des Moines to either Texarkana or San Antonio - it's back roads most of the way. Oh, I forgot to mention that Sheila takes the cats with her! There's the setup - a 16 hour car ride, on back roads, with the cats, with a stopover to see friends, with work starting the next morning... oh, and it's raining... and the car is acting funny.

Not everyone might now that we bought a new car recently, a Rav4. But the Rav is for the pups, so Sheila gets my old car, my accord. That car is a 2003 accord that's never had a thing wrong with it, except for a minor paint issue. I had a 100k warranty that just expired, and we are now at 102k miles. You can sense what's coming, right? Sheila's able to get to Texarkana ok, but the car is acting increasingly strange, jolting on acceleration, losing power going up hills... we try to diagnose over the phone, but we can't figure it out. She decides to keep going, and nurses the car to Ravi and Devi's. She visits for a couple hours and heads out close to midnight. She's on her way to Dallas, and then down to San Antonio. However, a couple hours outside Texarkana, the car is really acting badly, bad enough to scare the crap out of Sheila. When she lets off the gas, the car jolts hard as if she slammed on the brakes. It's just not safe anymore, so Sheila stops and gets a hotel in Mt Pleasant, TX, and sleeps for a few hours until the morning. There's no Honda dealer in that town (big surprise), but there's a Toyota dealership, so she hobbles the car there. What's one Japanese car manufacturer or another, they're all the same right? But they really can't find anything wrong with the car, except that there are multiple error codes in the computer. But they can't help, so Sheila gets back in the car and drives to Dallas, another 2 hours down the road. She's already missed her first day of rotation and calls to tell them.

She makes it to a dealership (I found one for her, plus she's got the GPS), and proceeds to tell them the story. So this is first thing in the morning, and she hopes to be on the road shortly. There's only one problem - they can't find anything wrong with the car! What? You are Honda, this is an Accord, what do you mean you can't find anything wrong with it? They clear the error codes, and Sheila takes them on a test drive. Naturally, the car doesn't exhibit the behavior, but we have hopes of a resolution, because when they return to the dealership, there's an error code, and they replace a relay. Could it really be a $5 solution? She's been there all day in the waiting room of the dealership... with Beeble and Trillian... haha! But now she's on the road again, only 5 hours from San Antonio! She's on the road not 10 minutes when the car starts jolting. She calls me, and my heart just drops, because she's so frustrated. What choice does she have? The car doesn't feel safe, so she returns to the dealership. Well at this point, they have to keep the car, because they have absolutely no idea what's wrong with it, and need more debugging time.

So now that the car is in “good hands” (said sarcastically), Sheila still has to get to San Antonio, and hopefully by Tuesday. There’s some leeway when it comes to your week of rotations. Actually, we still haven’t figured out what the rules are with regards to how many days you absolutely need to work each week… one of the areas with lack of detail and clarity around the rotation program. So Sheila rents a car from not-so-Budget rental and begins the next leg of her travel program. At this point, we’re thinking this will be the end of the problems. But no, that would be too easy! It’s at this point the GPS starts acting odd. You trust the GPS when you’re in a completely unknown place. You take its word for everything, it’s your gospel. So when the GPS takes you off the freeway, you follow it. And when it tells you to get back on, you do it – but you trust it a little less. And thus it went for the next 5 hours until Sheila called me and I gave her the basic idea that she didn’t need to change her route until deep into San Antonio.

So the GPS got her into San Antonio, and within 5 miles of her hotel, when it took her down a road that ran right into a river. Ok, it’s not the GPS’s fault, because the river isn’t usually there. With all the rain, the road was washed out. So the police barricaded it, but not really, and Sheila didn’t find out until she was already past the barricade and face to face with the mighty stream. At this point, Sheila was at the breaking point. She was exhausted and had been through hell. But she got past that barrier (both physical and mental) and finally got to her hotel, only to find it wasn’t even close to the 3 stars that Google said it was. I won’t bother with the details, but Sheila decided she was only going to stay there one night.

This story is getting really long, so let me cut it short by telling the end. This is where we find out the transmission in our car is busted. What! Let me remind you that we are at 102k of a 100k mile warranty. The bottom line: $3800! We just sold our other car to Will. We have to get it fixed. But the next call we get is the dealership, and Bill, bless his soul, did more digging. He found out Honda extended our warranty to 105k miles due to some recall issue. Score! The transmission will be replaced for no charge. It was the only good thing that had happened to us all weekend. Wow!

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