Sunday, January 24, 2010

The curse of the road trip part 2

So remember how in my last post I wrote about how I have bad luck with road trips. Yeah.... Here is my conversation with my friend in Taos, the day I was supposed to leave:
Her: "Have you checked the weather? It's snowing here, we have about a foot right now, and we're supposed to get tons more. School is cancelled. The roads are still open but it seems risky..."
Me: "Crap."
I was so bummed- I made arrangements to get work off, to have the dog I'm sitting for taken care of (I decided to bring Rosie so that I'd have some company!), I cleaned my house, I bought road trip food. I was ready to go! And I needed to go. With my luck though, I was not going to head out with such a bad forecast. I was whining to my dad, and he said, "Maybe you can visit your sister." (In Steamboat, about a 4 hour drive, the opposite direction from Taos). Brilliant. So I went with Rosie and quite a bit of trepidation. Besides forgetting to bring an extra pair of socks (and learning that the hard way), the trip there was easy. I made it there quickly, safely, and with mostly good weather. I spent the whole weekend feeling smug and accomplished.
Saturday night I was watching the news. Southern Colorado (which I would have passed through to get to Taos) got 4 feet of snow, high winds, and in some places there were 20 foot snow drifts. Holy moly, I made the right decision! More smugness.
Next time I have any feeling that even slightly resembles smugness, I need to remind myself to get ready to eat it. The drive home was not sunshine and daisies. It was snow snow snow, driving 10 miles an hour, limited visibility, and pure fear. My hands still ache from gripping the steering wheel. But I got through it. I made it over the pass, through the bad weather, and into Kremling, the first city after leaving Steamboat. Then I got to Silverthorn, my next milestone.
I started heading up a big highway hill (I-70, on the way to the Eisenhower tunnel), traffic stopped. And went. And stopped. And went. And so on. It took me 45 minutes to go a few miles. Snow started blowing. As I inched up the hill, I noticed a strange smell. I thought, "Who could be baking here?" That's really what it smelled like- cookies. Then a guy started waving in the car next to me and pantomimed that my engine was smoking, and it was. White smoke was seeping out the cracks, getting thicker and smelling not so much like cookies anymore. Rosie started pacing in the back seat as her muscles shook. I was scared. There was nowhere to pull over, nowhere to exit, nowhere to turn around. After what felt like a long time (but was probably just a few minutes), there was enough of a shoulder for me to pull off.
I'm a wuss when it comes to car problems. I wish that I were one of those tomboy types that could figure things out, but I'm not. There was once when I got a flat tire on a mountain road and thought I knew how to change it. I got out the tools and kept telling myself, "How hard can this be?" I was flailing around with the jack when a truck pulled up. Two guys jumped out and without saying anything, changed my tire, got back in their car and drove away. Maybe I make a better damsel in distress? Pathetic.
So there I was, sitting on the shoulder of the highway, with an insane mountain drop on my right side, traffic on my left, nowhere to go, and a smoking engine. I started crying. Why did I decide to take a road trip by myself? How is it that I am so inept with cars? What could I even possibly do? Then traffic stopped with me. People got out and stretched. One guy near me opened a beer and was running between the cars whooping and having a great time. I laughed. Rosie stopped pacing and laid down with a grunt. My engine stopped smoking. My phone worked and I called my sister and her husband, who very gently talked me through my options. My sister said, "Ok, open the hood of your car." I don't even know how to do that! My car maybe overheated, maybe blew a hose. Finally, the best idea seemed to be: Let the car sit for a little bit, start it, and then drive to the next exit with the heat blasting (to prevent it from overheating again) and figure out what to do from there. Traffic started moving again. I started my car and kept my eye on the temperature gauge. It smelled horrendous, like car chemicals, but it ran fine until I got back to Boulder a few hours later.
Now my car is in the shop. Hopefully it is something stupid and harmless, like my dad's theory that my wheel wells were full of snow and ice.
I now officially believe that I have some sort of road trip curse!

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