I should probably preface this blog posting with telling you that I had a nightmare night before last. Stress about the recent death in the family (Wayne's mom passed away on the weekend) or the fact that our Florida trip was looming. Chalked it up to that, I did. In my dream, I was camping by the side of the road at night. I looked up to the Universe and gazed at the stars and saw so many strange symbols and signs in the heavens, crisscrosses and marks that I woke up in terror.
Today, after much packing of clothing for a wide range of temperatures from freezing brrrr fecking brrrrr...to warm toasty sunshine...and packing in the many kinds of garb we'll need (Medieval faire with a couple of costume changes to pirates, medieval) and also a couple of everyday gigs (Celtic pub and a church)...adding in 4 guitars, a mandolin, drum, food and drink....we loaded our new car to the gills and set off in our "new to us" 2006 Suburu that we just got just before Christmas. We have sort of named the car "The Sleigh" because it's red, we got it at Christmastime and because we were doing a lot of Santa and Mrs Claus gigs then.
We love the car! It's beautiful and there have really been no problems with it. It's clean and the mileage was a lot lower than our old Suburu (compare 84,000 miles to 253,000). It's the nicest car we've ever had!
We had been very concerned that our old car wouldn't make another trip south this year. We needed to feel safe and have a dependable ride. Our awesome friends and mechanics at Auburn Engine and Transmission went through the car with a fine tooth comb and all was well to set off. YAY! It was running great too!' So happy!
Loaded up for bear and we set off- a little later than we wanted to- at 8:45am in the morning. At about 9:10am I said to Harry:
"This trip seems weird. I don't know if its the day or what, but it seems odd. We should think of a name for the trip as we always name our tours."
Then I thought to myself, "How about The Sleigh's Maiden Voyage?"
Then I next thought, "Yah, but I don't want it to just be all about the car. This trip is broader than that...."
A couple minutes later we were climbing a small hill in Borodino and we heard a small "pop" and immediately lost power. Now the car started running rough and the "check engine" light started blinking.
Eegad. We know this story ALL to well.
FUCK FUCK FUCK.
Ok, look on the bright side!
We were pretty close to home yet, so we immediately turn around and take it to the mechanics we know and trust. I mean, it's better than breaking down in the boonies somewhere, right? It's a blessing in disguise! Think positively! Thankfully, we call them and they know we are leaving away today for three weeks and miraculously they let us pull into a bay. We limp the car back to Auburn, running rough and engine light doing the fandango. OY.
Hey...Maybe its a spark plug or wire, you know...something simple? Scrumpy (yah, our cool mechanic is named that :) gets out his tools and plugs in the diagnostic tools.
But its a mystery. A real conundrum.
There was no symptoms, there wasn't much information coming in.
After a bit of brainstorming and troubleshooting and time spent, it is discovered that cylinder #4 had no compression.
So...they dig a bit deeper to try to find out the cause....
Bit by bit, more parts come off. We wait in the waiting area. I now have my laptop out and am seriously considering getting the flasks out of the car. Hey, its noon somewhere.
Think positively Merlyn! I say "Hey, we can wait. We have computer, food and liquor. We're fine to wait.We're on an adventure, right?"
Thankfully we always built in an extra day or two travel into our itinerary for just such emergencies.
Now the bad news.
The engine is broken down over the next few hours to discover that something truly bizarre happened. The "Valve Guide" popped out of its sleeve in the engine. A simple thing, but a major thing. So, all of our life, trip and opportunity for work in the south was in the Suburu, which was now up on jacks.
It's a great and clean engine! A thing of beauty....See?
Now you see it:
Now you don't:
Ok, so it's gonna take a couple days (at least) to fix this, because the valve guide needs to be sent to the machine shop to be re-tooled, planed special. So, with my handy dandy computer on my lap (complete with the fan that keeps the old thing running and not burning the hell out of my thighs...) I start letting my fingers do the walking and we start calling around to try to find a rental car. Logical, right?
This gave us more bad news.
A rental for 3 weeks would be (are you sitting down?) Around $1500 fecking dollars!!!. And U-Haul was even more. (We are on this trip to WORK. You know. to make money?)
We certainly didn't want to break contracts or disappoint fans down south....yet now we also will be having to finance a pricey engine job. I mean, it can't be cheap to work through all that mess. Add to this, that we threw all we had, and all we could borrow into the car already....
Now it's thank God for even more plastic- time.
And we thank the Gods for FRIENDS and FAMILY.
Like Sam, Wayne's brother, who drove Wayne around and let us use his big truck for a bit.
I started praying to every God and Saint that I loved. There was Jesus, yes, but also Hermes and St. Christopher (travel helpers), Athena for wisdom, Mary for acceptance...and most especially Ganesh- "Remover of Obstacles." I had even chosen to wear a Ganesh pendant before I left the house and it was getting a lot of prayer time.
See, the new car was getting work done. YAY. BUT......the metaphor for it was that the car had to have major heart surgery. Would you run a marathon (Florida trip over the next 3 days) immediately after getting heart surgery? Probably not a good idea.
What to do? Please God....give me a sign....(and a good one, not the shite signs in my dream please...)
I posted on Facebook to keep our fans in the loop (after I so hastily had posted a "We're OFF!" post before we left...silly me....)
Could we rent from someone?
Borrow a car? (not likely, but hey, any twine would lead me at this point...)
Another miracle happened!
Our dear friend, Elaine, saw my FB post and OFFERED HER CAR to us for the duration!!
So then the next set of issues:
*We borrowed Wayne's brother's truck to get all of our belongings packed so tightly out of the car (sitting in the shop- which will be continued to be worked on while we are away) and we load up all our stuff in the open back end of that truck. The mechanics could not believe we packed that car as full as we did. I should've taken a picture, but I was busy reloading our stuff out. Again.
*Big storm coming in. We need to move if we are gonna move. Several weeks of good weather and shite storm is coming NOW. sigh.
*Drove to Marcellus and picked up Elaine's car (which we've never seen nor driven before) THANK YOU ELAINE. You are a Godsend!! She gave us her only key and said "don't lose it, it's the only key.. If anything breaks, fix it, and travel safe and I love you." We love you too so much!
*Left her house and drove in a blizzard back home (now 7 hours later and we are still at our house AGAIN) and our instruments had to ride in the snow and freezing elements for a 1/2 hour back home (eeeek!) open air in back of pickup. Worried about them.
* Got to our house....and took all that stuff out of the truck....again....and squeezed "most of it" into Elaine's car. Unfortunately, we've had to jettison stuff to get it all into Elaine's Toyota Tercel which is a bit smaller capacity than the sardine packed Suburu Forester.
We had to leave behind our sound system for the bar gig- keeping only mics and stands (hopefully plugging into their system at the pub) Other ballast also included: 2 guitars and a mandolin (we were taking 4 guitars/ 2 are "outside" guitars...and 2 are "inside guitars") and several other things deemed nice but not necessary. The inside guitars (for the electric gig) will now be getting a faire experience Pray for dry weather there. (rain in forecast unfortunately this weekend).
* Then we set off AGAIN at 6pm in the evening to start our trip...
*Not in our new car...
*Not with all our needed gear
*BONUS, now in a blizzard and shite weather.
*Elaine's car (which we have now named "The Good Samaritan") is running good, we have found most of the switches and lights in the dark and is going down the road.
*We stopped for a slice of pizza for dinner (we really hadn't eaten since breakfast and most of our food is burid somewhere in the car) We bought a whole pizza for $5 in Homer at the Minimart and that was our dinner. Big box manuevered back and forth and we ate slices carefully while trying to make up the time lost, and trying to find our way in a blizzard.
We landed, worse for wear, but happy to be alive, and at least making on our way south - at midnight last night in Harrisburg PA where we stopped for the evening.
We thank Mike and Scrumpy at Auburn Engine for their time and service. Good luck on fixing "The Sleigh!" And what are you gonna do with all the extra parts? :)
HUGE THANKS to Elaine Moran for lendind us her very own car to us...we'll keep your car, now named "The Good Samaritan" well watered and she'll need a shower once we get to better weather. It's snow, ice and salt encrusted right now. But we'll be very good and kind to her. It was a pretty blue when I saw if first. Now it is a whitish greyish snow blizzard car.
Thanks to friends calling and checking in on us. It means a lot in weird times.
We hope that the trip is (as Garp says in "World According to Garp) that it is "Pre-Catastrophed" and that the worst is now over?
Say a prayer for us please.
We saddle up and will make some more miles, (Gods willing and the creek don't rise) Knocking on Wood and hoping for the best.
Merlyn & Harry