Well, we did it! That was the most fantastic trip I have ever taken. The scenery out West is amazing. So here is how the trip went:
Tuesday we flew out to LA and my Dad's Brother-In-Law picked us up at the airport and brought us back to his house where the 240D was sitting since 2000. When I got there the car looked ok. I looked over the entire car quickly and thought it was all right to drive to Pep Boys to get their work done. Dropped the car of and Pep Boys and they installed 4 new tires, new water pump, flushed the radiator, bled the brakes and general inspection. They could not look at the AC since it was R-12. Went out to dinner with the B-I-L, the Minister and his wife that married my Dad while the car was getting worked on. Finished dinner and picked the car up around 9PM. Immediately drove on to Las Vegas when the car started overheating after a few hours. We stopped a few times to let it cool down some.
Arrived in LV 2AM Wednesday.
We weren't really tired so we played Blackjack until 7AM. I called around and found a local Mercedes service shop (Doctor Benz) that opened at 8. Brought the car to them and used a laser temp gauge and found that there were cool spots in the radiator. That meant the radiator was clogged and they wanted $800 to replace it with a new one. :shock: The radiator itself was $500. I asked for alternatives and there are no aftermarkets made. He suggested we go to a local Pic-&-Pull and see if they have any. Well we went to:
Cleanest junk yard I have ever been to. Entire lot was covered in cement and all the cars were elevated on welded tire rims. We found an almost perfect radiator that seemed almost brand new. It only took me 5 minutes to remove it from the car. It had no fluid in it and there were no transmission lines going into it. While we were there we picked up a drivers' side qtr panel since the one on our has a rust spot. Paid $125 for both. Went back towards the service center and we had to get my Dad some breakfast. It is around 11AM and he hasn't eaten anything yet. He is a Type 1 Diabetic and only eats Breakfast and Dinner. I told him that we will get breakfast before going back to the mechanic. We came back into the Las Vegas strip to turn left and I was going into the left hand turn lane. I applied the brakes and started to slow but then the brakes went out. I pumped the brakes a few times but they started then failed. I threw the shifter into low gear (it's an auto) and tried to slow some more. Got it to slow down but not enough. I hit the car in front of me going 3-4 MPH. No visible damage and nobody was hurt. I called the cops anyways because I wanted a statement to reflect that no visible body damage and nobody was hurt. I was scammed before in another minor fender bender but I was lucky and they dropped it. The cops were taking awhile so I told my Dad that Denny's was only a few blocks away. It was over 100 degrees and sunny. He walked there and back and it ended up being over 5 blocks away. My Dad is 76 years old and a diabetic for over 50 years, it is remarkable the shape that he is in but that walk was too much for him. We got to the service center and his legs started cramping up. I have never seen him in so much pain before and I was helpless in that I could not assist him. He drank about a gallon of water and the cramps went away after 20 minutes. So now I had the shop see what was wrong with the brakes. Ends up being a bad master cylinder and the 2 brake lines in the back were leaking. The parts would not come in until morning so I asked if I could install the radiator myself. He said I would have to install it in the parking lot since his insurance would not cover me in his garage. I said no problem and I was grateful that he let me do it. Put the radiator in filled it with fluids and an hour later I tested it only to find out that it was leaking some at the top where the plastic dome fits over the metal core. It kept the car cool so we figure it will work until we get back to VA. At this point it is around 5pm and I only have slept 45 minutes since we landed in CA and only had a Coke to drink and no food Wednesday. I have about had it. Got back to the hotel and talked to Dad and we were on the same page. We both thought that we needed to get the AC working and if the mechanic could not get it working then we wont get the master cylinder fixed and just tow the car home. Got a good nights sleep and had a good dinner. Thursday morning: I dropped the car off at the shop and told them of our plan and they agreed. Marco, the owner of the shop said the radiator has been sitting in the desert for who knows how long with no fluids. The gasket between the metal and plastic had probably shrunk and should go back to normal after a few days of driving with fluids in the radiator. I felt reassured and went back to the hotel. At this point my Dad was up $333. It was a sign that our luck was turning! Got a call an hour later and the AC was ok. There was a leaking o-ring but they thought it would hold a charge but for how long they weren't sure. Told them to go ahead and charge it and fix the master cylinder. Got a call around 10:30 saying the car was done. We finished up at the tables and headed over to pick up the car.
Headed out to Hoover Dam and goung east via Interstate 40
Next Stop was the Grand Canyon. I was speechless. It was truly beautiful! I would like to take my family out there and spend some time there.
Stopped at a few overlooks. Here is the Benz resting:
Drove to the Petrified Forest and decided to stay the night since it was already dark. I can't remember what time we got there but early AM. Friday morning we drove through the Petrified Forest
and the Painted Desert:
Kept on driving and stopped by the Cadillac Ranch in TX
Stopped nearby at The Big Texan Steak Ranch. We did not attempt it but had a nice steak dinner.
We drove 930 miles that day. Not much to see after Texas and just kept on driving as much as possible. Had to be at the Grand Ole Opry by Saturday 7PM. Spent the night somewhere in Oklahoma and drove another 500 or so miles Saturday to get to Nashville 10 minutes before the show started. We both enjoyed the show and I don't even like country music. Drove out of town for an hour or so after the show to spend the night and spent Sunday driving the last part through Tennessee and Virginia.
In total we drove 3030 miles and the car ran perfectly after Las Vegas. We averaged around 24 MPG and had a really good time. Seeing the West and spending time with my Dad was worth the nightmare in the beginning but I am glad we stuck it out and saw our beautiful country. I would strongly suggest to anybody to do a cross country trip once in their life! Thanks to all for the suggestions on places to visit.