The waiting room at Goodyear
Written 8 January, 2009
The Fun Drive Home
It's been a long time since I've done a road trip, so I was looking forward to the 950-mile drive from New York to Atlanta.
If I'd only known! Delta is always ready!
On Tuesday night Sweetie and I loaded the little Honda 125 I bought into the trunk of my Camry. It was 15 degrees F, cold as hell.
The next morning after I saw her off to work I secured the motorcycle and loaded the stuff I had accumulated during my three months in New York.
Compound bow. Check.
Two boxes of books. Check.
Portable exploding lipsticks. Check.
Grrr. I guess Sweetie appropriated them for her collection.
I stopped by the hardware store to buy a strap to hold the trunk lid down, drove 15 miles to stay goodbye to Sweetie at her work, and hit the road.
Let me tell you-- if you're facing a 900-mile drive in 15-degree F weather in a car with a thermostat that's stuck open, either take the time to put some cardboard in front of the radiator or spend the $40 bucks to have a new thermostat put in. It was COLD!
The first day was long but uneventful. At 9:30 pm I hit Hillsville, VA, where I spent the night.
All the fun happened the next day.
Things started out well enough, and by about eleven I was in familiar territory. Charlotte, NC was just ahead.
When I stopped to buy a soft drink at McDonalds, I heard the dreaded and all-to-familiar you-should-have-got-those-new-brake-pads-like-I-told-you sound.
Then, when I pulled into a rest stop 50 miles past Charlotte, I smelled oil.
The Camry's oil had been just fine, but now it was two quarts down.
I stopped at the next exit and put in two quarts and pulled onto the highway.
Two miles later the car gave a great shudder and set up a horrible clatter.
I stood beside the road, well clear of the rushing traffic and thankful for the 40-degree sunny day, and called AAA for a wrecker.
The wrecker took me to a garage which, I had been told, was standing by. Of course the head mechanic told me I would be lucky if they could get to me that day.
I was in rural South Carolina. I could hear banjo music playing.
But what was this?
"Look at this tire," the wrecker man said, as he lowered the Camry. "I believe those treads separated."
Happily, there was a Goodyear store only a half mile up the road.
Unhappily, the battery was dead.
Happily, the mechanic gave me a free boot, I think to just get me away from there.
I spent four hours at the Goodyear store, reading Stephen King's The Dome ($9 postage paid on Amazon thanks to their price was with Wal-Mart).
Finally, with four new tires and a new battery, I was underway.
Before the tire incident I had been making good time and expected to beat a promised snowstorm to Atlanta.
I still might have, but now I was stopping every 20-30 miles to check the oil.
Stopping was an adventure. The brake light was now coming on when I hit the pedal, so I was using the automatic transmission to do most of the braking. But keeping oil in the car was critical, so I was driving at 50 mph and stopping frequently to add very expensive roadside Kwickie Mart oil to the engine.
The snow started about the time I hit Atlanta.
I drove the last 40 miles in heavy snow on a 12-lane Interstate highway filled with drivers who had never seen snow and brakes that could give out at any time.
But I made it!
Now I'm home again.
And without transportation again.
In a little while I'll wrestle the motorcycle out of the back of the Camry and have it towed-- or, possibly, drive it very slowly-- to my mechanic.
He should have my Miata running and ready for me.
Last hour's drive...