Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On 1000-mile drives, and working alternators

For most of my license-holding years, I’ve appreciated older cars.

Older cars, I thought, had character, that worn-in feel that boasts both experience and a nice, rounded dip in the seat that makes you feel like you’re in the right spot. They’ll often have their own idiosyncratic noises, too; but instead of being disruptive, they just make you feel like you know your car that much better. It’s yours. Anyone else would be worried by the whirring and the shaking that happens when you gear into reverse. But not you – you know it’s just the character, the experience, and that worn-in feel all at work.

There’s a decent chance that this developed in order to convince myself that my modest little Volvo who is ten, going on eleven, is really as sprightly as ever. Or that Pete’s car, lovingly named Old Blue, (who is rounding out twenty-two years on this earth, and has only one working speaker), is really just as good as any other. Since Monday, I have learned that cars that old, though, are not to be trusted.

I have also learned that towing services are indispensable, and that one thousand miles might be too many to try driving in one day.

You see, Pete is staying in South Carolina for the next few months, motivated by its warmer weather, and shmancy golf courses. He found a place to stay and a course to play (ha!), mostly by the good graces of family friends and connections. I thought I’d tag along for the first week, before my last (last!) semester of college in Connecticut.

We started our drive before the sun was up on Monday, hoping to make it down by that evening. Old Blue got us just over the border of North Carolina before deciding he’d had enough. After countless phone calls, one new alternator, a Firestone lounge, and a lot of bad coffee, we forced Blue to forge on.

By the last two hours of our drive, we were fighting sleep. But as if Blue was apologetic for putting us through what he had, his right side speaker came to life for the final miles. Through it we blasted Arcade Fire as loud as it would go, and tried to sing, or rather scream, along to keep ourselves awake. You might say we owe our lives to Win Butler.

Even though Monday was the opposite of smooth, I’m not even that mad, because this is what I’ve been looking at for the past two days.

And this.

And Savannah is only a half -hour ride (or in newly-fixed Blue who maxes out at 65 mph, about 45 minutes), so I’ve also been looking at this.

That’s what I’ve been up to for the past few days, and will continue to be up to until next Monday, when I come back to brave the Connecticut Cold. I have kale and potatoes to tell you about, too. Until then, make sure your alternators work, and I’ll see you soon.

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