Ok, I've decided to post photos of my poor Goldie. If anything, I hope this will serve as self-encouragement to never let this happen again.
Here is my trunk. Notice the lack of a liner board and a topper rug thing. And yes, notice the mud smears too.
More mud smears. Light was growing dim last night, and after removing gallons of water and dirt slop, this was as good as it got. This is the left-hand bucket area.
And here, we have the offending vent. My somewhat-proved theory is that this vent is busted on the inside, and lets water (water that is kicked up from wheels spinning) into the trunk. Water which then gets nasty and gets my things nasty and has brought us to where we are today. This is also the vent that is going to be sealed up so we can test if it is the culprit.
Oh, the joy of a disgusting wheel basin (wheel lifted up).
The right-hand pocket, home to a car jack (which may need to be chucked due to water exposure... we will see), and (oh!) more muck.
So yesterday, I removed 85% of the muck. The rest needs to be removed with cleaner and many paper towels.
I'm currently drying out the mat and trying to flatten out the cover (it's fiberboard and warped). I may have to cut out a new cover-- we will see.
I plan on hot-glue-gunning a plastic cover on the vent. If that works, we'll look for a more permanent solution (if need be). Since the water comes in there, I can't just remove the plug in the bottom of the wheel basin. That would get rid of water only when it gets so high in the left-hand pocket and sloshes over to the wheel bin. I'd prefer to have no water at all.
This is a process. Wish me luck.