A Slight Complication

We decided to drive back to CA in an old car we recently bought as a knock-around car. The reason? So we could leave the van in Texas for the upcoming trip to bring the Airstream to the orange grove. Things were fine last night when we drove to Amarillo where it was 18 degrees. They were fine all morning as I drove through the first miles of New Mexico. However five minutes after Ray took the wheel he said, “We have problem.” The problem was the sound of knocking and the smell of oil. We limped the three miles back into Santa Rosa and were lucky enough to immediately see a Ortega’s mechanic’s shop. The pronouncement was metal shavings in the oil. In other words we were about to throw a rod, which meant the engine was going to require more money for repair than the entire car was worth. A fatal car condition.

Ray and I problem solved alternatives after learning there were no rent cars in Santa Rosa. We ended up electing to use our AAA and having the car towed to Albuquerque, a little over 100 miles away. We took the car to a place called You Pull a Part, which is an auto recycling place. They agreed to let us store the car there until we can get home and mail them the title. The car will sell for the grand total of $455, which was more than we were expecting. Next problem, it was 4 pm and the Pull a Part place closed at 5. Ray ran to the airport to rent a car while I did the necessary paperwork to salvage the car.

Ray returned in record time since his phone has died and he didn’t get my message that the fellow at Pull a Part offered to stay open late to allow us to transfer our stuff from our car to the rent car. A it turned out we had made the entire switch with three minutes to spare before closing time.

We are now passing through Flagstaff, zipping along in a brand new rented Suburban. Luckily, we had little money in the old car besides the brand new water pump we had installed yesterday. We were lucky all round. Three miles outside of Santa Rosa, close enough to get back. Great people at Ortega Auto. In fact George , the owner, ended up being the tow truck driver for all to Albuquerque and couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. And John at Pull a Part bent over backwards to accommodate our needs. This complication cost us about four hours and offered a validation Ray and I know after much cross-country driving. Americans In general are decent and kind people.

Of course we are regretful we drove our old car to the point the engine was shot and if we had just left it in Texas and brought our van, then the car might have been fine for a quick-trip town car for quite a while. Alas, we didn’t do that and now it is goodbye to that car. But all in all, not a bad four hour adventure.

Again, we are both just grateful it was close to a town, during the day and during reasonable temperatures. It could have been so much worse!

5 thoughts on “A Slight Complication”

  1. Great story, Len! It’s good that you guys are flexible and able to function in such a situation. I’ve had two of these sorts of things happen, with two different cars, and, like you, have found people to be helpful and willing to work with us when necessary. I won’t bother you with the stories of my problems because this is your blog. But maybe one of these days you can read about them on my blog. LOL

    1. Thanks, Sam. Yes, I think those of us who have encountered problems on road trips could spend lots of time swapping good stories. I will look forward to reading about your experiences.

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