In lieu of a room-class upgrade, the Crowne Plaza (whose staff are getting used to seeing me as I've been staying here fairly regularly) gave us a complimentary breakfast. I went down and took my time over the breakfast buffet — the final one of this trip, of course. As it happens, this is the second hotel (and fourth night) where I ended up with an unexpected included breakfast. I suspect that even with walking up to 22K steps/day, I've gained weight on this holiday.
The restaurant staff remembered that I had been planning a big trip, and one of them asked for specifics as she's planning on going to Europe herself soon. I told her that I can't recommend the Holiday Inn Express properties that much in Europe, although all of the other IHG properties have been pretty good. The analogy I gave is like restaurants: North American Holiday Inn Express properties are like Sizzler steak houses: they're not top end, but they're decent and dependable. The European HIXs are more like Denny's — yes, they're not actively bad, but they're not the same level in my opinion.
Lisa did decide to make a gingerly way down to breakfast and have a relatively light cooked breakfast. She continues to be weak and woozy. The coughing continues, and this makes her hurt a lot and not get much rest. It's like being constantly beaten up, and it's no fun at all.
After breakfast, we packed, I got a luggage cart, and we got moved out of the room. I did nearly all of the moving, and Lisa just held some doors, but even then, the walk back and forth was nearly too much for her. She collapsed into a chair in the lobby as I returned the cart and checked out, and I went back to the other end of the hotel (I'd parked where I knew it stayed shady longer, and with the temperatures heading toward about 38°C this is a major concern), got the van, drove around to the front, helped Lisa into the van, and off we went for home.
After a little while, Lisa realized that there was some sort of fluid on the passenger floorboard. We were approaching Colfax, so we pulled off there and investigated. I checked all fluids (burning my finger on the oil dipstick in the process), and Lisa concluded that this was engine coolant leaking from the heater; probably the heat exchanger or a fitting somewhere. It wasn't a lot, but it was leaking. I keep a gallon of coolant (or sometimes just water) in the van for this purpose, and I put more coolant in the recovery tank. As the tank wasn't empty, we weren't too concerned, but we did need to keep an eye on things. We mopped up the coolant in the floor and continues up the hill.
At Dutch Flat we stopped and checked again. Coolant was lower than when I refilled it, so I poured in more fluid and refilled the jug of water. Lisa put a cup under the drip point and held it with her feet to catch the drips.
At Donner Summit we checked once again. Only a little bit of coolant was in the cup, but I topped off the tank again just to be sure. We'd stopped running the air conditioning as we made the climb up the mountains in order to reduce strain on the cooling system. The van seemed to be handling this okay, and the temperature gauge stayed within normal range.
Crossing back into Nevada, we stopped for the last time at Gold Ranch. The leak seemed to have slowed down, and as we were no longer having to work up the mountain, but were instead on relatively level terrain, we risked using the air conditioning again. The leak did not increase, and the temperature gauge remained happy for the remaining 50 miles home.
And home we returned at last. The house was surprisingly cool for having been buttoned up for so long. I brought in all of our luggage and we brought the house and the travel trailer back to life. Lisa got the air conditioning in the trailer running and started rigging the trailer to serve as her "lifepod" where she can keep a relatively controlled environment in which she can recuperate.
I did a quick run to the grocery store to get those immediately necessary perishables while Lisa worked on getting herself into convalescence. I told her that the best thing she can do for us is to get well soon and to concentrate on that.
On the other hand, while I don't appear to have caught whatever it was that afflicted Lisa, I'm not completely well. What with having to haul so much extra luggage on account of Lisa barely able to move herself (at one time I had five bags on me), my back is killing me. I also think the beds in those last two hotels were too soft, which didn't help.
Anyway, we are home, unpacked sufficiently for both of us to rest, and I still have tomorrow off before having to go back to work. To that extent, the plan to leave some days in reserve at the end of our trip seems to have worked. Tomorrow I can sleep without worries and try not to work too hard.
I do enjoy traveling, and most of the past three weeks has been pretty good (with some notable exceptions), but I'm glad to be home.