road trip: Cars suck / cars are awesome

In the ladies' guide to the apocalypse by summerburkes0 Comments

March 14, 2007

Albequerque. That’s where the Shins are from, right? Also, they have decent drinking water. Important to a gal and a dog who don’t drink hardly anything but. We’ve been trying to save money by doing all kinds of food-packing and vessel-refilling activities in between making sure that $400 K-car doesn’t flatline.

Yesterday in Needles (“needles inn” – make yr own jokes) it quickly became apparent the auto mechanic’s favorite thing to do there was gouge travelers. With the help of a trusty mechanic friend via cellphone, we niggled the cashier-owner lady down from almost $400 to change a FREAKIN THERMOSTAT to just over $100. We woulda done it ourselves if we’d brought tools, which we left at home b/c we didn’t want them to get stolt.

Of course, the lady had absolutely no crescent wrenches or 9/16″ anywhere in the store. Now, we’re not super great with cars, but we’re learning — and we know enough to know if you’re an auto fixer who’s out of crescents and 9/16″ wrenches with the Napa parts supply coming to you twice a day, you’re up to something.

Anyhoo, later on that day, somewhere around Winslow, Arizona (tiny baby Jesus, please get that song out of our head, please, we don’t care if you put “Say Hello To Heaven” or “Route 66” back in, but get the Eagles out of our brain please Lord) we began to hear a knocking. Pulled over for some chicken fried steak at the Hopi rest stop and discovered all the oil was gone from the engine. All of it. We’d just filled it back in Flagstaff.

We don’t want to think the tweaker mechanic — fat, pupils dilated, greasy fingers shaking as he showed me the gunk that caused our old thermostat to malfunction — was given instruction to mess up our car on purpose so we’d throw a rod ON THE WAY TO SEE OUR DYING GRANDMOTHER because we’d fervently haggled with the lady to not pay $400 to do a half-hour job with a $5 part. We don’t want to think that.

But why would there not be any hose clamp attaching the thing to the other thing on the thing? Why would our trusted mechanic back home have overlooked something that huge? Why would the hose choose to jar itself loose from the head, causing a major oil leak underneath the thing where most other skinny girls in cop-friendly flowery dresses couldn’t see it?

still can't get over the fact it was called "Needles Inn"

still can’t get over the fact it was called “Needles Inn”

Welp, We diagnosed the problem ourselves. Fixed it too. In the rest stop, in the trucker-parts section of the store, we gained the respect of two semi-truck-driving Southern boys who thought we actually drove a rig because of the grease on our hands, and our authoritative stance in front of the hose clamps.

Now we know why the Cyclecide boys talk about cars and trucks and buses almost constantly while we’re rolling on tour. To fix a small and potentially lethal problem on a machine that big gives one an immense sense of pride.

Stop us if you’re sick of car talk, friends back home, but there’s not much else going on, currently.

Meanwhile, we’ve got to get out of Albequerque before the high-desert allergies that kicked in hardcore last night take us down completely.

Did we mention we have no air conditioning or a radio either? We guess we’ll be singing and howling Eagles of Death Metal songs again all day … hopefully not just the plain Eagles.

DAMMIT. I was standin on a corner in Winslow Arizona AAAARRRGHHH SOMEONE GIVE US AN ICE PICK WITH WHICH TO STAB OURSELVES IN THE BRAIN.

next up: further east (we hope)

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