Archive for the 'Vehicles' Category

A fond farewell

Right here in the throes of your busy life, Dear Reader, I humbly ask you today to pause for a moment of reverential contemplation as we reflect on the immortal words of our Beloved Dill Pickle (undoubtedly an intimate companion of Mr. Dickens): “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

The Pickle was born in 2000, grew up in a variety of homes, and was adopted into our family in mid-2015, a fee of $500 having changed hands in that transaction. The Pickle served Andrew well for over a year, transporting him from one location to another, if not in high style or extreme comfort, at least in a modicum of reliability.

The Pickle was proud as a peacock to have been outfitted with classy covers for both its seats and steering wheel in December, 2015, and while its cosmetic features did leave something to be desired and it did burn (leak?) oil at an impressive rate and its AC stubbornly refused for any reason to blow cold air, the Pickle did have an exceptional security system in that its doors could not be opened from the outside unless one knew how to apply the secret release code.

Andrew put 14,000 miles on the Dill Pickle over the past 14 months, but on September 2, 2016, he drove the Pickle for the last time. He (the Pickle) was making some odd noises and “felt funny,” causing Andrew significant concern. When he called me asking what to do, I told him to drive it straight to our mechanic, who later told me he was surprised the car had even made it to his shop. It arrived there sporting two shredding front tires, a damaged strut, and a broken axle; the right front wheel was in danger of falling off. Our mechanic said his conscience would not allow him to let the Pickle leave his lot unless it were repaired ($1200) or towed.

With tears of sorrow and heartfelt thanks to God for Andrew’s protection and safety, we unloaded all of his personal possessions from his cherished Pickle and went home.

Hearing the news of the Pickle’s demise while he was away on a mission trip, Scott agreed that the best thing to do would be to place the Pickle for adoption with our mechanic, who would then see to its being taken to a far, far better place. Papers for the Pickle’s final arrangements could not be signed until Scott’s return, and when he did return, Scott – who is known far and wide for turning challenging situations into profit – received from a wise friend the idea of selling the Pickle on craigslist.

And this he did today, for $500.  = )

So, while we are all sad to see the Dill Pickle go, we are all thankful that even in its passing, it continues to be a blessing to our family.

Yes, good has been done here.

The Pickle exits the scene. Andrew smiles, but, still feeling an emotional attachment for the Pickle, calls out “Take care, O my Pickle. Take care, O my Pickle. Take care, take care, don’t dare not care, take care, no air, no fair, take care, take care, O my Pickle.”

The end!

Jeopardy question: What is “TBD?”

Answer: The number of days (weeks? months?!?) between the time that one finds in one’s trunk the cooler of chicken breasts and pork egg rolls she bought at Sam’s TEN DAYS EARLIER and the time when her car no longer reeks of road kill.

NOTE: While the human gag reflex is indeed a powerful force, having coated the trunk with a solid layer of baking soda and having placed two half steamer pans of (unlit!) charcoal briquets in the seats of the car, a 17 year-old male who is desperate for wheels with better gas mileage than his only alternative (a 2004 Durango getting 15 mpg tops) will volunteer to drive said stench-mobile so his mother doesn’t have to. What a chivalrous son!

The plucky Dill Pickle – and God’s great faithfulness

Here’s the email I sent Scott on Friday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Scott,

What happened:

About 3:30 this afternoon, Andrew called me from somewhere in Branson, concerned that his car was making a weird, bad noise and felt funny. Something about the front tire(s) or wheel(s). I told him to drive it to Taney County Tire, ask them to look at it, and have them call me to tell me what was wrong and if it was safe to drive home.

The diagnosis:

Jeff called a few minutes later to tell me that the only way he could allow it to leave their lot was for it to be towed or repaired, that it was NOT at all safe to drive, and that he was amazed Andrew had gotten it there without having a very bad accident.

The right front strut (the thing that attached the wheel to the frame of the car) had broken. The whole thing was so loose that the wheel could have fallen off.

The left front tire was so worn on the inside that the interior wires or threads were poking through all the way around. The right front tire was nearly as bad.

The left front axle is broken.

When I went to pick up Andrew, Jeff showed me all these things. It’s quite bad.

Our options with Taney County Tire:

  1. Repair it. When one strut is replaced, you always replace them both, so the repair would involve replacing:

– both struts

– two front tires

– front left axle assembly

When Justin calculated the estimate, it came to $1200, but Jeff told Justin that we were good customers and “we have to help her out.” They agreed to do it all for $1000. I told Jeff we had paid only $500 for the car, knowing it was an old clunker, so given its oil drinking habit and its lack of A/C, it may not be worth repairing. I told him I would have to talk with you over the weekend and let them know.

  1. Trash it. If we decide not to repair it, I can take Jeff the title, and they will take care of hauling it off and getting it junked at no cost to us. Jeff said salvage yards aren’t buying cars. They are getting less than $100, if any, when they do that.
  2. Buy a car from Jeff. He has a car sitting there that a lady needed fixed. He did all the repairs and got it fixed up, and she couldn’t pay for it, so she gave him the title and he wants to sell it for the $1700 he has put into it. His comment to me was that it’s fixed up, it has A/C, and it’s safe. He said, “I would put my kid in it. Finding a car for $1200 is not easy. If you want this one as an extra car for $1700, let me know and it’s yours.”

He is awaiting my call to let him know what to do with the one Andrew has been driving.

Please contact me so we can discuss this and decide what to do.

Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Scott and I talked, and we agreed that Option #2 sounds best to both of us, so when Andrew asked this morning, I told him that. We’re not sure exactly what that will mean in the near future, but we did two cars for three drivers while Matthias and Jessica used Scott’s car for their honeymoon, so we know it’s possible.

Andrew and I had pulled all his stuff out of the Dill Pickle when we left it at Taney County Tire on Friday, He was very quiet then, but now he seems sad and rather wistful about relinquishing “his” car. (“It’s my first car, Mom. I have a lot of memories about that car.”) I let him talk. He said he wants to watch it get smashed. Wow. Now that would be tough for me, and I don’t know if we can even reserve a spectator seat for such an event, but I’m thinking that if it’s possible, it would be a healthy grieving thing to do.

Since Friday, Andrew’s been very helpful and considerate. He’s been giving me a lot of hugs. I think the realization that he (and/or others, including friends of his) could have been very seriously injured has made a big impact on him. I am still amazed that it held together long enough to get him to the repair shop with no accident or injury. When he got there, Jeff’s mechanic tried to drive it a bit to figure out what was wrong, but he only went a few feet – not even out of their lot – before turning it around and telling Jeff, “No way! It can’t be driven. It’s not safe.”

God was watching over my boy. I am deeply grateful. Damaged cars can either be fixed or junked. Not so damaged sons.

Vehicular if then

IF you are in your home when it begins a frog-strangling downpour,

And IF the rain is so heavy you that can barely see your mailbox from your porch,

And IF you later learn that cars on the highway were parking on the shoulder because they couldn’t drive in that kind of rain,

And IF, as you peer through the deluge, you have the distinct impression that the driver’s window of your Durango is open,

And IF you then race out to said Durango, getting soaked to the skin before you even fling open the driver’s door,

And IF you realize with sickening dread that the driver’s window is not the only window that is open; all four windows are,

And IF, as you scramble to get the key in the ignition to raise the windows, you notice that there’s an inch of standing water in the console between the front seats,

And IF you are puzzled and can’t figure out how such an incredible volume of water got from the windows to the middle of the vehicle,

And IF in your consternation you to look up and see that the sun roof is wide open,

And IF you manage to get the sun roof closed and all four windows up and there is still water streaming down the dashboard over the stereo controls,

And IF you trudge slowly back to the house (because once thoroughly drenched you know you’re not going to get any wetter),

And IF you wait till the rain stops and you go out with beach towels to begin sopping up the water in the Durango,

And IF, while you are sopping, it starts raining again so you give up in disgust,

And IF, an hour later the rain really does stop, enabling you to at least remove the standing water,

And IF, when you drive the car later that day, you are thrilled and amazed that things like the ignition, the lights, the stereo, and the AC all actually work just fine,

And IF you also try out the cruise control find that it does Absolutely. Nothing. At All,

And IF that knowledge depresses and discourages you because you use the cruise every single time you drive to town (meaning that you have become lazy and don’t want to have to bother trying to maintain a steady speed, and you realize, sadly, that you will now have to closely watch the speedometer every time you drive the car for all the remaining years you own it),

THEN, when five days later, the cruise suddenly starts working perfectly again,

You will be exceedingly grateful.

Jeopardy question: What is “Turn the radio up louder?”

Answer: My short-term solution to the Durango making a whining engine noise.

It’s nice to have friends who know what to do about car repair things when I don’t. At church last night, I asked J.R. to listen to it and advise me as to whether the noise was a “serious” noise that needed a mechanic’s attention, or a “trivial” noise that did not; you know, one of those noises that a twelve-year-old vehicle might produce just to make its presence known and grumble a bit.

J.R. listened, instructed me to pop the hood (bonnet for you Brit readers), and checked the transmission fluid. He said it was 1.5 quarts low. I noted where the dipstick was, way up against the dash, and asked where you put the transmission fluid in. Turns out it goes into that same hole that’s only about the diameter of my middle finger! I would clearly need a long, narrow funnel to do that, but J.R. said that if I took the Durango to our mutual friend, Bill, who works at O’Reilly’s, Bill would put the fluid in for me.

I thanked J.R. for his help and advice and then confessed that when it started whining about a week ago, it was intermittent; not all the time like it is now. I told him I didn’t like the sound of the whining (Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or complaining.”), so I did what any wise woman would do. I turned the radio up louder. J.R. got a big belly laugh out of that.

Bill did put the transmission fluid in, and while it still whines a little bit, it’s much softer. But on the way home, the battery light came on. I passed that little problem on to Scott.

[Update: (2/26/16) The Durango is currently spending the day at Taney County Tire where it will be fitted with a new alternator.]

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane!”

Saturday evening I was sitting on the porch reading when I heard a pretty loud motor, like a really noisy lawn mower.  The sound was coming from over toward the creek, and I figured it must be something over at Altom Construction.  I ignore it and kept reading.

The noise continued, gradually increased in volume, and seemed to be moving a bit.  So, maybe not Altom.  I figured it was probably Mr. Gaar over mowing the Casa de Luz.  I ignored it and kept reading.

Very shortly, the mower noise got significantly louder, and I was quite sure it was moving.  It had to be those Lane boys.  Their family lives in our little “neighborhood” at the end of the road and they are very big into motorized vehicles.  Go-carts, four-wheelers, motorcycles of all sizes. . . they have a large collection of such things, so I figured they must be zipping up and down Coffee Road.  Too comfortable to bother getting up to go look, I just kept reading.

But suddenly the noise felt and sounded like it was right over my head!  And VERY loud.  And still moving.  Was it circling?  What the heck was going on?

I dropped my book and went out onto the front walk, and guess what was right above me?  THIS!

(This is it, but I didn't take this picture)

(This is the actual thing, but I didn’t take this picture.)

This thing – whatever you call it – was circling directly over my house and the horse pasture across the road!  It went over and around three or four times, and twice passed just over the tree Scott parks his car under.  The guy sitting in the thing was so close I could see him grinning!  He waved to me as I stood on the front walk, and I waved back.  WOW!  What a thrill it must be to sit up there and fly around!  It looked like he was sitting in a go-cart suspended from a parachute.  I had never seen anything like it, much less a demonstration like that right over my very own front yard!

I couldn’t tell who he was, but because he waved, I figured he must be one of the Lane boys, so I texted their mom:  “Is your son flying over me?!?!?”

She replied, “Ummmm.  I don’t think so… What do you mean???”

“There’s a guy in a thing flying over me.  No, I’m not hallucinating.  It’s like a go-cart in the air suspended from a colorful parachute.  I don’t know what it’s called, but I thought of you because you guys have all those things with motors.  He circled over my house and the horse pasture several times and then headed west along 160.”

Her response:  “Oh, funny.  Yeah, there’s a guy in town that has a couple of those.  Zanescapes Landscaping.  You’re right.  That would be something they would have!”

Absolutely fascinating.  I was hoping the guy would come back so I could get a picture, but I didn’t want to run into the house to get my camera and risk missing him, and [insert embarrassed face] I didn’t know how to take a picture with my phone.  By the time I got that figured out, he had indeed returned, but he was way out over the pasture and creek, just a tiny speck, so you can’t even see him in the pictures I took.

I later looked up Zanescapes online, found the picture above, and learned that this vehicle is called a powered parachute.  I then googled that and located this close-up shot of someone flying in a powered parachute, so you can better see the set-up.  The man flying above me looked just like this, wearing a helmet and tennis shoes, and I could see him almost as closely as the guy in this picture.

Some guy in a powered parachute

Some guy in a powered parachute

I am not an adventurous person, and I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to actually do it, but this surely does look like at lot of fun!

Jeopardy question: What is 13.4?

Answer:  The gas mileage that your average, 11 year-old Dodge Durango (odometer reading 141,000) will achieve when pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with a 2006 Honda Accord up through the Ozark hills from Walnut Shade to Willard.

Bonus points if you also happened to guess that the driver of this entourage used hand signals(!!!) for all left turns because the left turn signal on the trailer would not work.