Just before milepost 42 on I-80, my van quit running. I mean stopped completely, as if it had run out of gas, even though the tank was one-third full.
Thinking quickly, Lisa told me to shift the van into neutral and not touch the brakes. As luck would have it, a truck check area (currently being used as a staging area for road-construction equipment) was ahead, and I was able to coast into this area completely off the freeway. This part, at least, was lucky, because this stretch of freeway can go many miles between exits and due to construction there are very narrow shoulders.
Lisa investigated but could find no immediately obvious problem. Her first guess is that the fuel pump failed, although she also suggested the distributor or the electronic control module. It's not possible to tell without the right equipment.
I called the real estate agent and explained that we'd broken down and wouldn't be able to make the appointment today after all. I then called AAA and an hour or so later, a flatbed tow truck dispatched from Fernley came and collected us and took us back to Reno.
I'd initially selected a shop from the AAA approved list that also happens to be within walking distance of the hotel in which we're staying (Circus Circus). It turns out that the tow truck driver had good things to say about the place as well. Unfortunately for me, they're horribly backlogged with post-Independence-Day work. They say they'll try to look at it and give me an answer by midday Friday, but they might not be able to get it fixed until next week simply because they're so backlogged.
The tow truck driver dropped us off at the hotel and after cooling back off in the room for a while and returning a couple of phone calls we got on a different matter while we were in transit, we took Lisa's van on out to Fernley. Thanks to all of the back-and-forthing, by the time we got out there it was too late in the day for an agent to come show us the place; however, we had an opportunity to poke around outside. I think I want to buy the place. It needs cleaning up, repainting, and things like new carpet and air conditioning units, but it looks generally sound and is a location that wouldn't bother us at all. Indeed, we were distracted by watching a BNSF freight that we'd previously seen heading east doing some switching on the tracks across the road from this house.
After this, Lisa and I drove around looking at a bunch of our other choices we'd gotten from the real estate agent's web site. There are some that are okay, and a couple that are sub-optimal but cheap; however, the one we looked at first looks best to me. We're going to try and come out on Friday and look inside and talk to the agent about some of the practical details. I know I think this auction.com site seems utterly unreasonable about some things, like demanding that if you're the winning bidder and not using one of their preferred financing options that you produce 100% cash in an incredibly short time. Except the auction guidelines aren't completely clear about this, and we're hoping that the agent can clear things up for us. Fingers crossed.
It being late in the day, we dawdled around Fernley a bit longer to let the sun set so that Lisa wouldn't have to drive back to Reno looking directly into the sun.
We got back to Reno too late once again to go to the Nugget for dinner, and after dealing with a day's accumulated mail, we didn't actually get to dinner until about midnight. We initially were going to go to the 24-hour restaurant in the Silver Legacy (Circus Circus appears to no longer have a 24-hour restaurant), but the booming music from the nearby Rum Bullions bar drove us away and into the adjacent El Dorado (the three casinos are interconnected), where we had a very nice, quiet dinner. The server made a slight error on my order, and to apologize gave me a slice of sugar-free cheesecake for free. I appreciate the service.
There's a chance I may have to stay over several extra days in Reno waiting for my van to be repaired, but I have no time off days left. Fortunately, I think I could "work from home" in the sense of working from the hotel room. With the mechanic's shop just a few blocks from here, it would be easy to collect the van once it's ready. Circus Circus also has "half-day" rates, so if I have to stay until, say, 6 PM, that might be doable. There's certainly no danger of the place filling up. Reno is very quiet right now.
If I have to stay more days, my AAA trip-interruption insurance should pay for the extra hotel nights and meals beyond those previously planned. I hope there isn't some clause that says if you claim beyond a certain threshold your insurance is cancelled, because this would make it the third straight July in a row that I've had an interrupted road trip due to vehicle failure. And it has been a different vehicle each time!