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Tan lines aren’t the only maintenance required

It was supposed to be a quick, simple weekend getaway. Chuck and Pongo take Nissantruck out to Palm Springs Saturday. We play for a night, then come home Sunday. A little less stressed, a little better tanned, maybe a little tired and maybe with some color photos to show off. No major effort – just a successful weekend. Heading north I made a last minute route change, and in a fateful decision, took the highway all the way in instead of cutting across the mountains.

Just outside of Palm Springs we pull off the road to stretch our legs and mark the local flora. Scorching hot, but that’s why the ice chest is full and we didn’t pack many clothes. Heat doesn’t scare us.

So we head on in to town. There on Palm Canyon during a break between songs on the playlist I’m hearing a wierd thumping. Didn’t pay too much attention to it. Figured it was just one of the other cars waiting at the light – either too much bass or someone else’s problem. The next song in the playlist comes up and everything’s back to normal. Why fix a problem when you can mask a symptom? Ignorance is bliss. Within 100 feet the thumping becomes much louder, still no problem, and then it stops.

Houston, we have a problem

Nissantruck jettisons her fan belts.

Cap’n – the helm’s not responding, and we’ve lost life support. Also the little red lights for brakes and battery are on.

Driving down the middle of Palm Springs on a Saturday afternoon, no power steering or brakes, no alternator and no A/C. Right in front of a bank sign reminding us that the temperature was 113 degrees in the shade, and yes, A/C does equal life support. Being a tolerable driver but horrible mechanic, I focus on the symptoms I’m aware of and ignore other possible consequences that might not rate their own warning lights. Pongo senses my stress and decides to freak out, never one to be wild about traffic anyways.

We get to the motel with the lack of power steering substituting for my workout this weekend, and I get Pongo checked in. With him settled in with some A/C and puppy porn Animal Planet, I go to a local garage one block away recommended by the motel manager. Of course, it’s Saturday afternoon and their mechanic is gone for the weekend.

I get directions to a Pep Boys across town. After a couple of phone calls I realize they’re pretty much my only chance on a weekend in this town, so I drive. I’m getting used to the lack of power steering, and melting in the blast furnace heat. As I get close to the destination I stop at a light and get a whiff of the air. Hmm, someone’s losing antifreeze. I guess Nissantruck’s not the only car with problems. Nope, Nissantruck was the only car with problems. Note to self: gotta remember to think about the non-squeaky wheels too. Radiator’s definitely boiling by the time I get to Manny and the boy’s place. Fortunately, they were aces. Rolling into any garage at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon I figured I’m staying in Palm Springs until at least Monday. I even sounded out the motel people on options to extend after I cab back over there to wait for word on our fate.

But no, Nissantruck’s done and ready to go by 6:00 p.m. Nice new belts, and the radiator’s all checked out with no repairs needed. Yay Pep Boys.

Weekend of fun was allowed to continue. I even made it over to the Agua Caliente tribe’s house of karmic balance and chance, where the tribe found me worthy and contributed $87 toward Nissantruck’s repairs. Of course, I got greedy and was forced to give back $19 of that this morning, but still, it was the thought that counted and the redistribution of wealth was appreciated.

No decent pictures ended up being taken, but the tan lines received some needed attention. And even with all this, I do feel relaxed now, though I took the highways home too. Not yet sure when I’ll turn Nissantruck loose on rural roads again.

As inconvenient and terrifying as this was, at least it happened where and when it did. The breakdown easily could have happened on the switchback mountain roads I normally drive to Palm Springs.

That or in the middle of the desert on next month’s tentative trip to Las Vegas. I really do feel very lucky, even if the tribe only partially agreed.

Chuck posted this on Sunday, May 22, 2005 at  5:40 pm.   Comments Off on Tan lines aren’t the only maintenance required 

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