Why not to set ambitious travel days

I was going to leave Bell Buckle, TN yesterday, but my friends didn’t leave there until about 4EDT and Marietta, GA was about 4 hours plus a time zone away. I didn’t want to get to Marietta so late, so I just stayed in Bell Buckle. This involved contacting folks in Marietta, Columbia, and Pawley’s Island to let them know not to expect me. This is the cost of staying in driveways and visiting friends rather than sleeping in camp grounds, Walmarts, or on the streets. It’s a small price to pay, but when pushing my friend for his ETD so that I could plan accordingly, he said “For a guy who’s living with no schedule, you sure are planning a lot.” And he’s right. I’m still not without commitments. I have to be back in Knoxville on the 18th to go to the health department to get shots for my trip to Ecuador, and then in Birmingham a few days later to acclimate Thor for a two-week stay at my dad’s house while I am in Ecuador (no, I am not driving to Ecuador).

I set out this morning at about 10AM. The shortest route appeared to be along interstate highways. I’m prone to favor smaller roads, especially since they don’t slow me down much since I’m typically not driving much over 60MPH, even on the highway (well, I have hit 75 a couple of times down hill).

I started to take a detour to the George Dickel distillery, but it was an hour out of the way and I thought I might rather piddle about the Greater Atlanta Area, perhaps finding a Trader Joe’s. A few exits into Georgia I stopped at a rest area. As I headed back onto the highway the car started to stall in a now all-too-familiar way. It was clear that I wasn’t going to be moving for long. I pulled over. I poured in a bottle of HEET, hoping that it would suck the water out of the gas and I’d again be on my way. Ten minutes of waiting and cranking passed. No joy. Another bottle of some isopropyl alcohol (which is pretty much what HEET is and all that they had at the last car parts place I visited in Knoxville). Another ten minutes of waiting and cranking. I started trying to look up VW mechanics around Chattanooga online. Another bottle. More cranking and waiting. And fretting. Finally, the car started. I resumed my travel to a local branch of my Knoxville bank to deposit a $15 check for some copper I sold recently. After deposited the check, I decided to go ahead and check out one of those mechanics.

I called a local VW dealer, got directions and headed there. I figured when I got there I suss the place, see what they’d charge to install the fuel filter that I had on board, and decide whether to let them do the work. The fuel filter is pretty easy to get to and it seems that the only tool needed would be a screwdriver and maybe something to keep all of the gas from draining out of the gas tank onto my chest.

It turned out that the address I had was out of date (the place hadn’t moved, but they’d changed where the road changed names). I was on the phone discerning that I had gone about half a mile too far when the car started to sputter again. Now the car was again dead and I was blocking a fairly major intersection. After a couple cycles of the light, a guy offered to help push me across the intersection. We both pushed through. I picked up some speed and left him behind. I could see the McDonalds, which was the landmark I’d been told to look for. It wasn’t far and was mostly down hill, albeit a slight one. I managed to get a good bit closer before I came to a stop. It wasn’t far, though, and I figured that I could make it. I pushed and pushed. I thought I had in sight the break in the curb that lead to the dealership.

I was moving, but slowly. Finally a guy offered to give me a push in his car. I was mildly concerned that his bumper and mine would not meet, but this was not a time to be picky. He pulled up very slowly, just barely tapping me as he connected. We slowly picked up speed and I was able to coast into the parking lot.

I pulled the parts out of the car, handed them over to the guy at the desk and now Thor and I sit in air-conditioned comfort waiting for a word. It’s been over an hour now and I’m starting to get a bit antsy.

Wait here. I’m going to see if I can get an update.

Hooray. Walden is back out front. The guy is preparing the ticket. “Wake the dog up,” the guy said.

I still have two hours before my friend finishes his golf tournament and Google thinks I can get there in an hour and forty minutes. So much for piddling around Atlanta, but at least I can still finish my drive without feeling rushed.

Off we go.

Here’s a picture of Thor lounging in the waiting room.

Thor waiting.

P.S. I was totally psyched that Al Johnson VW was able to take me in immediately and welcomed Thor into the waiting room that had wireless. I think that a seasoned pro could have done the job a little bit neater (the fuel filter hangs down a little bit under the frame, but it is well attached). As someone in the office pointed out, Walden is older than the guy doing the work. I may be being a bit picky, and the thing will certain work. I’d not hesitate to use them again. If you’re in the area, I’d definitely recommend them. Oh! And the repair was less than $40!

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5 Responses to Why not to set ambitious travel days

  1. Robert says:

    Where are my props? Now that you are famous, you have to distribute plaudits. The belly dancer? The weird lasagna item? Me cleaning up Thor’s dookie? Give it up!

  2. pfaffman says:

    There was too much that happened to be able to figure out just what to mention.

  3. Steven says:

    I too passed on the G. Dickel Distillery (in Tullahoma, I beleieve), but this was only because I was seduced by J. Daniels a little further up the road.    I actually prefer George to Jack.  

  4. helen says:

    When I called a Kville VW dealer they told me our van was too old for them to work on…

  5. Timmy's mom says:

    Thor seems pretty laid back.  Does he seem to be enjoying the adventure, or would he be more comfortable in a less nomadic way of life?  I worry about him with the van breaking down so much.

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