A good deal of time has passed since my last post. A good deal of events have happened, as well. My only reason for not keeping this blog up to date with said things is a lack of motivation. It's hard to write in a blog when you don't have a job. It's an odd state of mind. I have tons of spare time, but indulging in something that isn't industrious, proactive, or working towards being employed seems like something I should be ashamed of doing. Watching TV or loafing about, also oddly enough, seems less of a crime, being that it doesn't involve my active consent. I just sit, and it happens.
So obviously, I am typing this from bedroom, in a cozy suburb of Los Angeles known as Mar Vista. It's about three miles from the beach, sandwiched in between Santa Monica and Venice. Getting here, as you have read so far, was no small feat. What started off as an optimistic sightseers paradise quickly devolved into a desperate struggle to break free of the hellish claws of Wyoming.
I fully plan on catching up on things. So we will pick up where we left off, right? Right.
Our week and a half relationship with the mechanics of Ames Automotive and it's backyard was a love/hate affair. The owner was a dick, and his loyal sidekick was a saint. Thank god that the sidekick was the man working on my van, because if not, I would not be here today. I would be penniless and carless in Wyoming. No joke. I will briefly review everything that happened since my last ever-so-hopeful post, because it was a novel's worth of material, and it only happened in a three day span.
So this is what happened: The oil pan gasket was fixed on the day I posted my last entry, on time. In the process, however, some bolts were so rusted, that when removed, they simply sheared and became stuck where they were fixed. These screws went towards securing exhaust pipes to my engine, so that the exhaust and noise an engine makes goes safely to the tailpipe and away from my car. The manager, not wanting to fix this because it was closing time, simply tied hose clamps around my exhaust pipes, trying to secure them to my engine that way. The result was a horribly loud running van. Loud like a Harley Davidson driving flooring it inside your ear. He shoved it out of the shop, charged me $700 for repairs, and wished me luck. I wanted to badly to leave that I attempted to take it out of the shop despite my complete fear of the way the van now ran. After three minutes, I heard a distinct rattle (over the deafening engine) and stopped the van. With the shop closed, I was in for another night.
Cut to the next day. First thing in the morning I catch our assistant mechanic, Rob, and tell him the problem. He is not surprised, and genuinely sorry his boss pushed me out like that. He's going to make it right on his own time, free of charge. Thank god there are still decent people in the world. Catch is, we have to wait until Sunday. Fuck.
Cut to Sunday, (by now you know how sad and monotonous our days in Casper are) Rob begins work on the van at 2:00. He says it should only be about four hours. Four hours go by, it is not finished. I can't get angry at Rob, because he's doing this for free, but now Rob leaves. He has a family matter to tend to, and promises to be back around 9:00. He offers to take the van down for us so we have somewhere to go. I decline because I don't want anything to take more time than it should.
This is the worst thing I have ever done.
Casper, Wyoming is a desert city. It gets up to 90 easily during the day, and goes down to 40 easily at night. It's also a Sunday, so everything is closed. We spent four hours in front of Ames Automotive in t-shirts and shorts, in weather so cold that at one point we took refuge in a nearby excavator's BUCKET to get out of the breeze. All this while the business of the movie theater across the street passes by us, obviously watching and thinking how homeless and sad we are.
Rob arrives late, at 10:30, apologizes, and gets back to work. What he's doing is rethreading the screws that are stuck and sheared. He has to drill through the stuck bolts, make a new thread, and then make new screws (all by hand), to secure my exhaust pipe properly on. The process is taking him much longer than he thought. It takes him until 1:30am to finish. He starts it up. It is still very loud. STILL VERY LOUD. I want to cry, but he assures me that it's a completely secure seal. The reason it's loud is because my exhaust gaskets crumbled when taken off. The gaskets are solely for muffling noise. I am reassured by this. We spent one last night in Casper before taking off and never looking back.
I am going to recap this ever so briefly.
Cut to the morning. I start the van around 6:00am, not wanting to stay one goddamn minute longer. Ten minutes on the road and the van shuts off. I lose control of steering. I start screaming. I get a tow. I call Rob, and he tells me I threw a belt. He tells me to get towed to the closest place, so I do. This place I get towed to checks it out.
This is where it gets real funny. Try to follow along.
In front of my engine, there is a fan called a clutch fan. This fan spins at amazing rates, keeping my engine cool. This fan has four bolts that attach it to the rest of my van. Only ONE of these bolts were on. There is no way these bolts would come off from use because of the way they are mounted. The mechanics were surprised it was still on. Even more so that my van was still in one piece. If that fan were to come off, which it SHOULD have, it would have tore right through the hood of my van, easily ripping through everything in the way. I would have had no more van. No amount of repair would fix it.
So the fan, running on one screw, was terribly off-balance and wobbling as I drove. It tore through my serpentine belt and caused my van to stall. Incredibly, it survived, and the belt was replaced. Ames Automotive paid for the damages. I was back on the road. Freedom!
Ten minutes down the road, I get a check engine light, and smoke starts coming from the hood. I pull over. I cry. I call the new shop I had just come from. They arrive in a truck to check it out. Turns out that when the fan raped my serpentine belt, a strand of the belt whipped across one of my coolant tubes so hard that it cut a hole in it. The man left quickly to get the part I needed from the shop. He came back in an hour and replaced it. He shows me a repair bill. I tell him to put it on Ames' tab. The van starts up again. I was back on the road. Freedom!
I get out of Wyoming. I get all the way to Cedar City, Utah. It was somewhere around 500 miles away, because I drove like a goddamn madman all night and stopped only because my bowels wouldn't let me keep going. As I come to a stoplight off of the highway, my oil meter goes crazy and wobbles around empty. "Oh hell no," I think to myself. "THE OIL SHOULD BE FINE. THIS IS WHAT I KNOW HAS BEEN FIXED. YOU CAN;T DO THIS. NOT THIS. NO." Sure enough, I stall, and have just enough momentum to roll into a Wal-Mart parking lot space. We spend a night there before getting towed to a local shop. The shop tells me it sounds like something electrical. Ender is sure that the van is damned, and is about to call a U-Haul. I remain frighteningly optimistic, bordering on insanity.
The man goes to test a few things with a voltage meter, and comes up with a dead fuse. A dead fuse! $30 in labor, a new fuse, and I am on the road again. Freedom!
What do you think?
About 700 miles separates me from California at this point, and I plan on making it a two day trip. At most. To sum things up, I only took one break in Baker, CA to eat. Probably not the smartest place looking back, as it was a stone's throw away from Death Valley. The town's defining feature was a giant thermometer about 120 feet high. It read 102. I took another small break in some other California town, where the van came close to stalling again, due to the same electrical problem. But it didn't, and I arrived safely in Mar Vista about an hour later.
So here I am. A resident of California, and the proud owner of the loudest, sketchiest van on the block.
Thank you all for reading. I assure you that my blog is not over. Just because I have stopped driving, doesn't mean I have stopped experiencing. I hope to share with you my continuing adventure to become successful in California.