Friday, October 19, 2007

Ventura Highway to I-15 all the way home.

I know it's been a week already, but here it is;

The flight left Salt Lake at 11:05 am on Saturday. Actually we left about 10 minutes late because of technical difficulties. I don't know what it was, they wouldn't tell us, but I figured 10 minutes to make sure the plane is safe - that's OK with me. The plane was one of those tiny little jets, my head touched the ceiling as I walked down the aisle to my seat in the back. Row 11, there were only 13 rows and half of row 13 was the toilet. The flight was uneventful, but in an airport so small there was only one guard checking passengers, it took them almost 45 minutes to get my one piece of luggage that we checked. We figured that they were so small that they didn't want to start the luggage carousel for only one plane, so there were waiting for the other 3 plane loads that showed up to get there before cranking it up. Lucky us, we were plane #1. Meanwhile Skip, the boyfriend of the lady I bought the car from, is circling the airport, in the LTD, waiting for my luggage to show up. All this and the only things in the luggage were a blanket and two pillows (so we could sleep in the back on the way home). I should have just bought them there.

Finally we're in the car headed over to Laurel's house to take care of the paperwork. Being an old car which of course is not in perfect condition, I'm beginning to get buyers remorse. I'm thinking "What the hell am I doing flying all the way out here to drive back in a car that is almost 40 years old? We're gonna break down in the middle of nowhere and be stranded for a week!" Fortunately Alex and Danny were very optimistic about the car, so the remorse didn't get overwhelming. We get to her house, I drive the car around the block, Alex, Danny & I assess the things we are going to have to take care of before we hit the road, Laurel gives us the history of the car, I give her the money orders and we're on our way.

First stop : Discount Tires. At first Laurel had said the tires were fine, they had a lot of tread on them, which they did. Before we even came out, though, she mentioned that Skip had said I ought to put new tires on before driving back. They were in great shape, he said, but they were kind of old and had been on the car a while. Flashing back to the tire explosion in the convertible because of dry rot, I immediately decided that would be job 1 when we got there. Danny had arranged the whole thing from Salt Lake. Called a couple places nearby, got the best deal, had them get the tires from one of their other stores and all ready so that when we showed up we pulled into a bay, walked over to "The Hat" for lunch and the car was ready by the time we got back. Stop #1 - a success.

Now "The Hat" is not your ordinary fast food place, it was suggested by someone Dan & Rae met on a blog. We ordered 3 pastrami sandwiches and 1 order of chili cheese fries for the 3 of us. The pastrami sandwiches were huge, stuffed with excellent pastrami. The chili cheese fries, well, they were huge. Alex didn't even get to his sandwich, Danny & I gave up half way through. The fries filled us up. One order between the 3 of us. Worked out good, the sandwiches were reallt appreciated halfway through the desert between Barstow and Vegas.

Next stop was the nearest auto parts store. We checked and topped off all the fluids. We replaced the brake light switch, air filter and picked up a bunch of tools so we could make repairs if necessary. Stopped off at a grocery store for munchies and drinks and then hit the road. Everything went great, the car was running wonderfully.

Until we hit the first big hill out of the LA valley. It started cutting out, pingging and wouldn't go up the hill faster than 45 MPH. Being too stressed over what I was going to do with the car when I flew us all back to SLC, Danny and Alex talked the whole thing out and figured out the problem. Timing and a good clean for the carb. So the next stop we pulled off the freeway, passed an open parts store to find a closed one where someone told us about the open one we missed, and returned to the open one. I cleaned the carb, Dan & Alex set the timing - by ear. If you haven't worked on cars before you may not realize how amazing that is. Timing is set at something like 4 degrees above top dead center. Off one degree and you can notice it. Took them 15 - 20 minutes messing around with it, but when we got back on the road and hit the next big hill; no pinging, no hesitating, no choking out. The car pulled up the hill at 75 smooth as silk. Yup, Alex & Dan, automechanical idiot savants. Just kidding, they're not idiots. (Oh, did I mention, at the beginning of the trip I declared the car a "no asshole" zone, we were actually nice to each other over 90% of the time.)

The rest of the trip went like clockwork. Pulled into Vegas around 11, had a burger at In-and-Out burger then stopped in Mesquite to get a little sleep. We decided that we could either drive through the night and get home around 3, sleeping until noon and messing up our body schedule. Or we could grab a few hours of sleep, get home around noon without experiencing "jet lag". The only room we could find in Mesquite was the "Honeymoon Suite" at one of the casinos, and despite being out of the price range, we decided the three of us just didn't want to stay there. So, we hit the road again, found a room in St. George, got 6 hours of sleep and headed home.

Now, we made it 700+ miles without the car breaking down on us. Had a few issues that we fixed and got cleared up, but the never just died. Until we hit the 6200 So exit on I-215. Just died. Found out the regulator died, the battery just completely drained. The good thing is the car did it less than 4 miles from Alex's house. He just called up Marijke, she came by with jumper cables and, other than waiting for a while because she had to get the cables back from Jenn, we were on our way again. Dropped Danny off at home and then I went home. And immediatly replaced the regulator. Cars been running great since then. Anyways, if you want to see the pictures, click HERE.

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