If it Wasn’t for Bad Luck…

Mark Twain once said that the harder he worked, the more luck he had.

Despite the great adventure Heather and I had collecting the last two birds from southern Illinois and north Kentucky last week, we really were lucky.

We were lucky that Lou Cambier was available and generous enough to fly down and conduct an aerial search. We were lucky the weather, for once, cooperated. We were lucky enough to spot both birds within the first hour of flying. We were lucky when we found number 3-14 feeding in an accessible field instead of her ususal roosting site deep in the marsh. And that she was still there after we landed and drove 50 miles for the capture.

Our luck continued the next day when Matt Mangan and Donvan Henry got us to Wabash Island to collect 4-14.

There was a lot of running around and coordination but it really did go more smoothly than we expected. We arrived one day, found the birds the next, collected them both in two days and headed north.

But all that luck must be earned. If you don’t work hard enough, there is a good chance it will run out – or even turn on you and the tide changed on our overnight drive north.

I was driving the van with the birds in the back. Heather was right behind in our large Dodge diesel pulling the 30 foot aircraft trailer. An hour in and it started to rain – hard.

Our tracking van is old, which is why we left the travel pen trailer behind. No point in pushing fate and risking a breakdown with that extra load. However, it was the truck we thought was reliable that gave us the trouble.

At 2 in the morning the Dodge panel lit up with warnings so we pulled over. Eventually, we left it at a truck stop and continued with the van and the two cranes.

On the return, we spent a day at a Dodge Dealer in Mendota, Illinois. Once it was repaired, Heather headed for home in the Ford truck and I drove back to White River to drop off the trailer… or at least that was the plan.

Fifty miles later, in Beloit Wisconsin the lights came on again – the very same lights. However, by now it was after closing time on a Saturday afternoon.

From a rest stop on the highway I called a few 24 hour emergency services places and eventually one of them showed up. After an hour they wished me well and left with my $185.

Nothing I could find on the internet was open on Sunday so I nursed the truck along to the nearest hotel. Unfortunately, it was graduation weekend in Beloit and every room was booked. On the fifth try an innkeeper took pity on me and gave me a room that had been reserved but the guests were late.

I twiddled my thumbs on Sunday and was waiting at the dealership door at 8 am Monday. Naturally, I didn’t have an appointment and Mondays are busy so by 1 pm the truck was pulled inside.

It seems that modern diesel engines have an anti pollution device incorporated into the exhaust system. A filter collects all the unburned particles and when that filter gets full, fuel is ignited which, turns all those particles into ash and cleans the filter.

Something was wrong with the sensors and electronics in our truck so that burning off process was not happening and the filter was full, which effectively plugs the tailpipe. By the end of Monday I learned that it needs replacement and the only one in the area is in Chicago. Maybe it could be delivered by Tuesday but the complete bill would be $2500.

Our 2011 truck has 85,000 miles on it and is still covered by a warrenty – in Canada.

Seems Chrysler USA does not cover Canadian vehicles but Chrysler Canada should, except Monday was Victoria Day in Canada and everyone was off work – except me.

Without a warrenty to cover the parts, I had to pay for them before they would approve the order.  So here I sit for at least another day, paying for all that luck in cash, time and frustration wondering when we will be even again.

Addendum: I arrived this morning at the dealership to learn that the truck was fixed and ready to go, except it needed one more sensor that they could get in by Wednesday. Maybe luck and I are finally even because they said I was safe to drive it home before getting that final part.

To test that theory, I sat in the truck and called Chrysler Canada now that everyone is back to work. After a long conversation and lots of paperwork, the $2500 was refunded and all that work was covered by the warranty.

Thanks very much to the great people at Bryden Chrysler Dodge in Beloit Wisconsin.

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  1. thunder402 May 19, 2015 11:57 pm

    Mr. Twain is right. You all work so hard putting in crazy, endless hours.
    I know the cranes Thank You and we do too!!

  2. Deane Bauman May 19, 2015 11:45 pm

    Thank God Joe, I thought for a minute, that you would have to become an American Citizen!@ Ha!

  3. Andrea Johnson May 19, 2015 10:58 pm

    All I can say is thank you again for your dedication. Kudo’s go out to Chrysler Canada and Brydone Chrysler Dodge. Seems like they could use this for a commercial!

  4. Cheryl Murphy May 19, 2015 10:31 pm

    Despite all the trials and tribulations, and as frustrating as it all was, the ending was happy! Good work!


  5. Marianna Sadowski May 19, 2015 8:15 pm

    Well, sort of a happy ending……but the middle ….eh, not so hot. Hope it is all behind you…..and perhaps more folks now know about Whooping Cranes. 🙂 Thanks again for ALL you folks do….and do and do and do and…….DO!!!

  6. Donna Silva May 19, 2015 8:05 pm

    Awesome that things worked out for you and you got a refund but I know it was a pain at the time I really enjoy reading about the whooping cranes thank you for all your hard work.

  7. Russell Allison May 19, 2015 7:33 pm

    But Joe it wasn’t raining,,snowing,, no tornados. It sounds like a smooth ride. I usually say if it is possible for something bad to happen it usually does. In Operation Migrations world it is a normal day. You guys are great and under appreciated. Go Whoopers.

  8. ffmn May 19, 2015 7:23 pm

    OMG, Joe. I would have been really upset even tho nothing to be done to change the motion of events. You were exhausted from all the chasing of the whoopers. The 24 hour emergency service is only good for THEIR pockets.. I’m so sorry all this happened to such a great organization’s leader. Hope this ends the bad luck series. Tells me all these new great and wonderful additions to cars are truly not all they are played up to be. Good Grief!!!

  9. Mindy May 19, 2015 6:36 pm

    Oh mercy Joe! You were definitely blessed in being able to retrieve the cranes so smoothly…..I believe that God had a Hand in orchestrating that. So sorry it has been downhill from there with the truck but I am so thankful that the $2500. bill was covered. There is a blessing in everything and although it was aggravating, maybe the Lord was keeping you off the highway for a good reason. You never know from what you may have been spared…and I am thankful for that too….

  10. vannie Zychowicz May 19, 2015 6:24 pm

    Just get back here safe with the young whooper cranes that was hard work you’s did of getting them back that white river thinks a hold let God Bless you’s


  11. Bonnie May 19, 2015 5:59 pm

    Maybe we should pitch in a buy OM a couple of Lottery Subscriptions!
    Thanks, Joe.