Found a Lone Yokel Redneck shop that hadn't been around long. Not too many people knew of him or could say whether he was any good or not. Figured he probably knew a little more than I did, so I gave him a shot.
He pulled codes in his bigger machine and didn't see anything suspicious so he figured it just needed a good tune up and checkout, and I left it with him.
He ran all the tests and didn't find any problems in compression or exhaust gasses in coolant, etc. Changed pretty much everything in the ignition system as far as wires, plugs, cap, rotor, etc. and tested whatever else he could. Cap and rotor show some signs of wear, but he's pretty sure the main issue was the one wire that had apparently laid across the exhaust manifold and shorted out. That would certainly account for the misfiring and probably happened during that last couple of miles when it suddenly stated acting so bad.
None of his tests indicated a head gasket according to him.
It ran fine on the way home and idled smooth in the driveway for a few minutes. It may be a few days before I drive it far enough to see how it runs over a longer period.