I just got home from a visit to my family in Albuquerque, NM. I had a wonderful time and will talk about some of the things we did later. For a number of reasons, I decided to drive rather than any of the other modes of transportation.
It. Is. A. Very. Long. Drive.
Yes, a very long drive specially when there is only one person able to do the driving. I took my little dog, Morgan, with me, however she’s not allowed to drive. So, it was just me.
Actual trip is just under 1000 miles. I make it in two days, with the longest haul the distance between Wharton and Lubbock (522 miles). I have a cousin in Lubbock and can stay with him for a day, rest up and head out for Albuquerque the next morning (399 miles – all up!).
It’s an interesting drive – you pass through much of the Hill Country and a number of small to medium size towns – Sealy, Brenham, Cameron, Gatesville ……. and so forth. As you get closer to Lubbock the rolling hills end and the south plains start.
Wind Farms just north and west
And the oil/gas fields
side-by-side to the Wind Farms
side-by-side to the Wind Farms
Driving to Albuquerque, the countryside changes to high desert. I think everything is UP there. My little car was huffing and puffing some through the mountain roads.
Still, Morgan and I got there without incident, had a wonderful week, and headed for home this past Saturday. The trip home was not so nice.
I felt a difference in the way the car went up and down the roads leaving Albuquerque within an hour or so. Hmmmmm. So, here’s what I know about cars (1) I know how to start one (that uses a key); (2) I know how to put windshield wiper fluid in the reservoir; (3) I know how to check the oil and add more if necessary; and (4) I know where the spare tire is and, generally, how to change a tire. After that – I am out of my comfort zone. Still, no lights came on, car was driving along well enough, just not passing easily (ok – going up and down still – it’s a car used to flat country).
About the time I got to Clovis, NM, the car would not shift into passing gear. Possibly this is bad. And by Muleshoe, TX it wouldn’t go over 50 mph. Oh, this is certainly bad.
Now, here’s a little weird thing – as I crossed over the Lubbock County line, my brain started imagining flames – as in the car on fire. And, the way brains work, I started prioritizing things I had to do in case the car caught fire. 1. Stop and pull over; 2. Turn off the car; 3. Grab Morgan; 4. Grab my phone and purse; 5. Get out and away from the car.
Bing! On came to “Check Engine Soon” light. Yep, this is not good. But no other lights came on. It wasn’t in the hot engine zone. Onward. I got to Lubbock; just barely.
Stopped at a Firestone shop to see if they could tell me what’s wrong. Now, while they are good with tires and oil changes, the guys there couldn’t tell me anything else. It might be the transmission. Oh hells bells and little fishes. They can’t help with that. OK. Heavy sigh.
Monday, I took the car to a recommended mechanic.
Floating in front of my eyes.
Good and bad news. Good: Not the transmission. Bad: The catalytic converter was completely stopped up and got hot enough to melt the intake manifold. This was bad, could have been really terrible bad. Good: They could fix it on Monday. So, when I picked up the car Monday afternoon, the mechanic guy said “I’m amazed you got to Lubbock without catching fire, it was that bad”. Ohhhhh – brain seeing flames…….
The drive home yesterday was very long but without major problem until I got to just before Caldwell. Normally, Hwy 36 toodles along, turns left and then right toward Caldwell. Nope – the road people had the Caldwell exit blocked off. So, Siri tells me to “Turn right onto 2nd Street. Turn." WHERE??? No streets – just dumpy empty buildings and vacant lots. Zipped past the closed exit. So, Siri tells me “In 9.5 miles turn onto FM3473”. OK. When I got to that FM, she tells me to make a U-turn and go back to 2nd Street. Aaaarrrrrggghhhhh!!!!! I could have made a U-turn without going 20 miles out of my way! Actually, I was not very nice to Siri and made some rather specific suggestions about her directions.
Anyway, as I got close to where she wanted me to turn, I slowed down, took a breath and turned onto what appeared to be a dirt parking lot. Actually, it was a narrow ungraded dirt road. And after much turning and twisting, it dumped me back onto Hwy 36. And, we continued homeward.