Monday, August 22, 2011

Westward Woe!

It’s a good thing that we had days off in Idaho and eastern Washington so that we could tend to Arby and Toad.  Although we had joyfully shouted “Westward, ho!” when, in Iowa, we turned in the direction toward home, the vehicles seemed to experience westward woe.  Both began to suffer the strains of the long trip compounded by hail storms in Wyoming, high mountain passes in Montana, and long gradual grades against headwinds in Idaho and eastern Oregon.
Following our jaunt down to Salt Lake City in Toad, we returned to Idaho Falls where we had docked Arby at an RV park near the Snake River and where, that night, I sang for the Chukars.  The following morning, we packed up as usual, emptied Arby’s holding tanks, attached Toad, and headed toward Boise, thinking that we might stop at an intermediate spot since we had an open date between the two engagements in Idaho: a final appearance with a team in the Pioneer League—the Chukars—and the first in the Northwest League at the game in Boise.
Thinking that we could enjoy the following day without any driving, we pressed on to the Boise area.  As we pulled into the Country Corners RV Park in Caldwell, Idaho, we were greeted by the owners who offered us freshly picked corn, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers.  As I unhitched Toad and positioned Arby in his place, I salivated in anticipation of a steamed vegetable dinner.  But as we tried to move the car into the parking spot adjacent to Arby, Toad couldn’t hop.  There was no juice left in his battery, not even enough to jump start the car, only enough to set off the car alarm, which we had not set or heard since acquiring the car.  Finally, I got the battery disconnected to disable the alarm and called AAA—the auto club, not the office of the senior minor leagues—to schedule assistance for the following morning.  Thankfully, Bonnie soothed my spirit and my hunger with the sweet corn and home-grown tomatoes.

Adam loads Toad onto the flat-bed, tow truck while Arby watches.
 At dawn the next morning, AAA arrived and after the battery technician was unable to get the car started, the tow truck was called to tote Toad to an authorized repair shop in Caldwell.  There, the diagnosis was discouraging: the day’s repairs would need to replace the battery, address malfunctions in the electrical system, replace brake rotors, service the transmission, and replace a cracked radiator.  No wonder that Toad had been running so hot!
With the repairs completed by late afternoon, Bonnie and I were able to make it to the Boise game that evening and depart the following morning for eastern Washington.  But Arby’s climb to the top of the mesas beyond the Snake River and through the Blue Mountains caused him to cough repeatedly, overheat on the ascent beyond the Columbia River bridge, and trudge up the low, long range leading to the Tri-Cities area.  Arby would need a tune-up.
With AAA’s help, we located an approved automotive shop where Arby’s issues could be treated the following morning.  So we checked into a nearby hotel, went to the game that evening, and spent our day off the following day dealing with Arby’s transfusion.
Rather than spending the two days off in the northwest writing, resting, or going sightseeing, we spent them in a pursuit that has become all too typical on our journey—dealing with automotive issues. 

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