How Far Will You Travel For A Good Deal?
Traveling all the way to Bozeman to purchase a truck that was found on Craigslist doesn't sound like some wild adventure. EXCEPT if you live in Evansville, Indiana.
My uncle Tim, one of my mom's 17 siblings, had been on the hunt for a Ford-250 3/4-ton diesel truck when he spotted one on the Bozeman Craigslist page.
Why is a farmer in southern Indiana browsing the online classifieds from a city more than 1500 miles away? My Uncle Tim and Aunt Lisa would love to have a farm in this area of the country someday. "I get online to see what kind of property is available out in Montana because I love that area and just like to see what's available." One evening while searching the site, he jumped over to the Cars and Trucks page and found a red Ford-250 3/4 ton diesel that was too good to pass up. "The market is flooded with trucks out there and I could never get a deal like that in Indiana." And this began the journey.
Friday, February 8th
By noon central time, Tim had driven about 150 miles from Evansville, Indiana to the airport in Nashville arriving to the ticket counter around 3pm for a 5pm flight that would take him to O'Hare in Chicago, and then on to Bozeman. After a couple delays, his flight arrived in Chicago with only seven minutes before his connector to Bozeman departed. Running top speed, Tim was able to make it with a couple minutes to spare and was the last to board the airplane bound for Montana.
My uncle landed at 9:55pm on Friday night and met the owner of the truck. "I just trusted the process, did a brief walk around on it and that was it." After handing him a cashiers check, Tim had the keys and was on route to Billings.
I tried to explain what he might experience driving through Livingston at midnight in February. "The headlights on the truck were so cloudy, it was like driving in the dark." The blowing snow and semis were making the already white-out conditions worse. But Tim trucked on and arrived in Billings around 1:30am mountain time.
Saturday, February 9th
After a few hours of sleep, Tim was up early for breakfast and on the road for his next stop in Ft. Collins where his son Kyle lives. Again, you try to prepare someone for what they might experience driving through Wyoming in the winter because there's always a risk of getting stuck when they shut down the highway. Keep in mind, he was driving a used truck and he really had no idea what kind of shape it was in. "The truck couldn't have run any better from Montana to Colorado." He probably should've knocked on wood when he said that. After dodging a bullet with the weather, he arrived in Ft. Collins around 4pm on Saturday afternoon. It was going to be a quick visit and right to bed. Tomorrow was the final stretch to Indiana.
Sunday, February 10th
At 2:30am mountain time, Tim was back on the road. That's when the luck with the truck ran out. As he got closer to the Colorado / Kansas border, Tim noticed the truck started to run rough. "It felt like it was starving for fuel and then I couldn't accelerate." By now it was almost 10am on a Sunday morning and the truck was running so rough he had to pull over in Hays, Kansas. He parked next to an Advanced Auto Parts that was already open and the store let him borrow tools to troubleshoot what he thought was a fuel filter problem. After doing all the work he could in an auto parts store parking lot, Tim pulled away from Hays a little after noon. "Once I got the new filter in, man it ran great...for five miles." Then the sputtering started again. After talking to a diesel mechanic, Tim decided to keep making progress, even if that meant he was driving 55 mph in a 70 mph zone with the hazards on.
Tim got into the Flint Hills of Kansas and a new issue appeared. The battery warning light started going on and off. He pulled over and made another call to his mechanic who suggested beating on the alternator. So, he got a pipe and gave it three or four good whacks until the needle on the battery level went down. "It was a stressful drive watching the road, and watching the gauges go up and down." But Tim continued on, determined to make it back to Indiana and not miss work on Monday. "I kept watching the arrival time on the GPS getting later and later...1am...2am.."
Monday, February 11th
At 3:30am central time, Tim arrived back in Evansville, Indiana. After traveling more than 3,440 miles in just over 62 hours, Tim went to bed. He woke 90 minutes later at 5am so he could make it to work on time. "I couldn't just stay home knowing I was able to work. That's just not the way we were raised."
One week later, Uncle Tim says he finally recovered from what he called "jet lag." It was a stressful trip for Aunt Lisa too. She followed Tim's entire trip from back in Indiana using a phone app that tracked his location. As far as the truck, Tim is happy to be working on it in his shop and is "pretty confident" he has found the issue with the fuel filters. He says, "Can't say I wouldn't do it again. No risk, no reward."