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I like my trips to be adventures but some adventures you can do without. Like having your car break down in Columbus, Indiana. Now there are certainly worse places to break down, I will have to admit. We were cruising along Thursday morning at a brisk 80 mph down I-65 between Indianapolis and Louisville, when the car completely looses power. It never actually stopped, it just felt like thre was water in the gas. No acceleration. So I coasted down the shoulder at a screaming top speed of 15 mph. I made it to the Columbus exit and onto West Route 46. I spied a gas station ahead and thinking I was just experiencing water in my gas tank, I made for the station down a frontage road that I believed would lead me there. It did not lead me there. It ended just before the gas station so I tried to turn back onto the main route...right in front of a Taco Bell at lunch rush hour. Then the car dies completely with a nose out in traffic and a line of cars behind me. Do people really think that honking at you will help you move in any direction? I already had my hazard lights on. As soon as someone would back up a bit, I drifted backward so I was out of the main flow of traffic. I was still partially blocking the only exit for 2 fast food restaurants. I got out and raised the hood for no other reason than to let people know I wasn't going anywhere and they'd have to go around. They still honked.

I left Deb with the car and walked up to the gas station to call for a tow truck. They swore they'd get there soon. I walked back to the car and stood in front of the raised hood so the tow truck driver could distinguish me from any other uptight travelers who were broken down in a turn lane in front of a Taco Bell at lunch rush. Then it started to rain. I kid you not. My name really isn't Charlie Brown. So then we are both sitting in the car in the rain and someone taps on my window. I'm thinking it's the tow driver. But it's this random guy who is asking if he can help us. I roll down the window a bit more. His name is Casey Pickett...of course. Crew cut, blonde hair, muscle shirt, tight jeans, combat boots, muscular arms with a wraparound barbed wire tattoo. I tell him I've called for a tow and he tells me he's a mechanic and has a shop outside of town and the tow driver knows him and have him bring me up there. Then he takes off.

Tow driver arrives a few minutes later and to his credit, gets us on the truck very quickly. Then I tell him about Casey Pickett. You should have seen his face. We quickly learned the truth about Casey Pickett, itenerant mechanic, plumber, welder, cabinet installer and carpenter of sorts. In short, Jack of all trades and master of none. So we asked Tow Driver Steve if he had a recommendation. He took us cross town to Steve and Connie's Auto Repair. Auto Repair Steve is no relation to Tow Driver Steve by the way. And Connie? Well I thought people in the south were obsessive about NASCAR. They don't come close to Connie. The waiting room was very nicely appointed with wraparound checkered flag wallpaper. The chair seats were replicas of racing slick tires. Posters of every known driver decorated the walls. NASCAR magazines were everywhere and the NASCAR channel played continuously on the color TV on the main counter. And if reception was bad, they had a complete videotape library of past races and Dale Jr interviews. "It must really be tough being a mediocre NASCAR driver in the shadow of a late father who was so talented. Poor Dale Jr." That's what Connie said to me.

Despite the obvious NASCAR addiction, they really were nice people. Tow Driver Steve only charged me $35 for the tow. Steve and Connie only charged me $65 to determine my catalytic converter and oxygen sensor were shot. Problem was they didn't do exhaust system repairs. However, Tow Driver Steve had an exhaust shop two streets over and would be happy to work on my car. So we got ourselves and the car over to Steve's place in a short time. Now we met Exhaust Shop Sue, Steve's wife. Steve and Sue owned Bell's Exhaust repair and Towing Service. Steve and Sue were very nice people too and explained to us that they had been reamed so many times out on the road by less than honest tow truck drivers and mechanics that they had decided to open a shop of their own and only charge people what they'd charge their neighbors. And they were true to their word. Sue called around about the parts for my car. The could get a catalytic converter in that day but the oxygen sensor was going to have to wait until the morning. We should remember here that this was Thursday afternoon. I was planning to have been on the coast of NC that night and absolutely had to be there, 700 miles away by Friday afternoon. I had three options. Cut the exhaust pipe in front of the catalytic converter and drive a very noisey car to NC and have it repaired there. Or get a hotel room and wait for my car to be repaired and hope I could make 700 miles all on Friday. Or leave the car with Steve and Sue, rent a car and drive to NC and get the car on the way back. I took option 3. I found a local Budget rental (I hate renting from Budget) in the nearest Super WAL MART. I was quoted an extended weekend rate of $189 plus tax. They came and got me, I rented the car and drove back to pick up Deb and the contents of my car. I paid Sue half cost of the repair up front. A total of $320 including a new muffler and tail pipe which is cheap. Then we were on our way. We made it that night to Beckley, WV on the WV turnpike. It was a long drive the next day but we made it to my folks house in Morehead City, NC by Friday afternoon around 3 pm thinking all our troubles were behind us. Boy was I wrong. You wouldn't think it could get worse.

But more on that in my next post.




( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
Does Connie make pilgrimages to Kannapolis to leave flowers at Dale Sr.'s feet?

It's weird, you think NASCAR is a southern thing, but I know a lot more people from upstate NY who are huge fans than people down here. I guess it reminds them of their daily commute? Or did I get it confused with L.A. again?
May. 5th, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
Nope, that's accurate.

May. 5th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah right. My commute is not like NASCAR. And NASCAR is not one of my favorite things. It's one of my least favorite.

But then I am only one person up here in upstate NY.
May. 7th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
You make a disaster sound like an adventure . . . and of course you just make MORE FRIENDS!!!
May. 15th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
Travel Broadens the Mind
I am amazed at how you can keep your cool in those situations. I would still be kicking the car in front of the Taco Bell-in the rain. I am almost afraid to read the next post...but curiosity will win out. Everyone here says HI! I will let my other half know you are posting again so he can come and lurk. (((HUGS))) Tomyris
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
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