Four to one

It came about because our friends’ car was not drivable.

Their Jeep was out of commission and was awaiting a certain part so it could be repaired.  Meanwhile, they were stuck at their home, out in the boonies on a large ranch a few miles from here, with no transportation.  When Scott noticed that Dave and Susan weren’t at church on Wednesday night – and that after Dave had told him on Tuesday night, “See you tomorrow night!” – Scott called him on Thursday evening and learned of their vehicular situation.  He then decided to loan them Jessica’s car, which he and Katie took to them later that night.

This was a bit of an inconvenience, as Jessica had only four days left before departing on Tuesday to Asia, and she had planned a number of various errands and meetings with friends in those final days.   However, Katie would be home until Sunday morning, as would her car, and she let Jessica use hers over the weekend.

There were delays on Dave and Susan’s part arriving, so when I saw them on Sunday and Dave apologized all over himself for keeping our car so long, I said, “Hey, it’s no big deal.  We have two cars, and we’re fine.  And you don’t have to check in with us every day, either.  I’m not saying we want you to keep the car for two years or anything, but just use it till yours is fixed, and then bring it back.”

That was Sunday morning, and Katie drove off to Virginia in her car about the same time the Dave and Susan pulled into the church parking lot in Jessica’s.  (“Hey, Mom, that looks like my car pulling in!”)  As we were down to just the van and the Honda, we communicated carefully about who needed to be where when, made the necessary plans, and all was good.

Monday morning Scott and Josiah went to Springfield in the Honda.   No problem. Jessica met a friend and they visited at 8:00 AM, she came home, and she went to meet our pastor for lunch.  No problem.  I knew I had to go to the bank to make a cash withdrawal for Jessica to take to Asia, but once the van came home, I could do that any time in the afternoon, as long as I got there before 4:00 PM.

At 2:40 PM, Jessica (in the van) called me.  “Mom, where’s the overdrive?”

“Uh . . . I don’t know.  Why do you need overdrive?”

“Well, it’s flashing.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m by the side of the road.”

“Okay, but where?”

“On the downhill from F Hwy.”

“What’s up with the van?”

“I don’t know.  It wouldn’t accelerate, so I coasted down the hill, but the temperature gauge is really hot.”

This was somewhat unsettling.  While I was pretty sure we could figure out a way to get her home, it would leave me unable to get to the bank, and the withdrawal was time critical, as we’d leave for the airport at 9:00 AM Tuesday, and she had to carry the money with her to pay her tuition when she reached her destination.  Then she said, “I think I can make it home if I coast.”  Which she did.

Nothing better than a little car drama, huh?  The overflow bottle on the radiator was totally empty.  Not a good sign.  I left the hood up to wait for it to cool, and, while Jessica called Scott to tell him the news and ask his advice, I went inside to try to figure out how to get to the bank.  It was 2:45 PM.  First I called Shelly, a neighbor who goes into town every afternoon to pick up her kids from their various schools.  She was already in town.  Next I tried Lee.  She also goes in to pick up her daughter, but it turns out that on this day she wouldn’t be going in till 5:00 PM.  No good.  I considered Tammy, but she was already in town for her son’s piano lesson.  At 3:10 PM, I finally reached a Sue, who smokes like a chimney and curses like a sailor. . . BUT she was willing to take me in to the bank right then, and I was very thankful.

Shortly after we got home from that little jaunt, Scott and Josiah pulled in.  They had decided to leave work early to come home and deal with it.  Nice gentlemen they are.  Scott filled the reservoir with coolant and drove the van around a bit.  All was well, but we decided that we should take the Honda to the airport on Tuesday, just to be on the safe side.  Which we did, and that went fine.

When we got back from the airport at 11:15 AM, I decided it would be good to take the van out for a test run, to make sure the radiator/overheating thing was a-okay.  I drove it from here to F Hwy and back.  The temperature gauge stayed below C (cold) for about three miles, but at the base of the hill up to F Hwy, it rapidly climbed all the way up past H (hot).  AARRGH!  Not only that, it was a cold day and I had turned on the heater, but it only blew cold air at me the entire nine-mile trip.  Normally it starts blowing warm air after about two-and-a-half miles.  I coasted back down from F (the gauge dropping almost to normal while coasting) while I called Scott to tell him what was going on.  I then gingerly inched it up the hill to 160 with the gauge staying one notch hotter than hot all the way.  Thankfully, it’s downhill almost all the way to our house, so I coasted home, parked it, propped the hood, noted the two inches of coolant in the reservoir, and waited for things to cool off – again.

Scott agreed that something was very wrong, so he called Advanced Automotive up on Mt. Branson.  They had checked it out in September when it was doing this same overheating thing.  They pressure-tested the cooling system and found no leaks.  They replaced some odd fittings or whatever and did a full flush and fill and all had been well until Monday.  Scott told them all this and asked if we could bring it in later in the afternoon (Tuesday) and have them look at it on Wednesday.  They could.  Scott had already been off work quite a bit, so he asked Josiah and me to take it.

When the little beast had cooled sufficiently, I added 32 ounces of water to the reservoir, asked the Llama to follow me in the Honda and took off.  As soon as I pulled out of the driveway, the temperature gauge was at normal, and a mile from the house, it instantly zoomed from normal up past H.  One mile down, ten miles to go, and the thing was already blistering hot.  As I pondered that, I began to hear a bubbling and hissing noise under the dash.  Oh, boy.  I was almost up to the flat before Hwy 65, when suddenly – VERY suddenly, there was a huge steamy explosion kind of a sound, and there were clouds of steam shooting out of the front of the van and seeming to come from under the van on the right side.  As in, when I looked out the passenger window to find a place to pull over, there was such a big cloud of steam that I couldn’t see anything.  At least I assumed it was steam and not smoke.  If smoke, I was really in trouble!

I got the van just barely off the road and turned it off.  I sat there for a moment in my steamy clouds and wondered what to do.  I surely couldn’t drive it to Advanced Automotive like that!  Thankfully, Josiah hopped out right behind me and examined the situation.  I called Scott and told him in a calm voice that I was fine, but that I could not drive the van to the shop because something significant had happened and there was a great deal of steam everywhere.  Josiah then got on the phone and told him (Llamas do tend to exaggeration in crisis situations) that something had exploded.  Lovely.  We got out and saw a large green puddle on the pavement under the passenger door.  Hmmmm. . .   It looked as if something had caused ALL the coolant in the system to run out onto the ground.  Scott said there was nothing to do but lock it up and come home.  Which we did.

The problem – other than the obvious problem with the van’s cooling system – was that the next day (Wednesday) Scott and Josiah had to go to work in Springfield.  While they were gone, I would need to take Andrew to piano and do the grocery shopping, go home, go to an appointment, go home, take Andrew to the Y, go home, and go pick up Andrew from the Y and go home, before going to church.  And we had neither four, nor three, nor even two working vehicles.

To shorten this very long story, we had to borrow Jessica’s car back from Dave and Susan for one day and have the van towed to Advanced Automotive.  It’s now Wednesday, and we may get the van back sometime today.  Whether we do or not, we plan to go pick up Dave and Susan for church and then let them take Jessica’s car, since we don’t need two cars at the same time for the next few days.

I am assuming the Honda will remain functional.  That’s safe to assume, isn’t it?

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