Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gas and go pit stops

On Friday morning we set out on what for sure has to be our most round about (i wanted to put circuitous here but Melissa says I shouldn't use big words like that too often) trip to Tulsa ever. As you can see from the map we had to first go nearly in the opposite direction to pick up D from camp before progressing toward the great plains. All was well until about 45 minutes from arriving at camp shortly after we exited the interstate and headed into the Smoky Mtns. Our van began lurching and not accelerating at all in low gears before it would "catch" and began to accelerate like a mini-van with a complex. As long as we were traveling along at a reasonable speed and didn't have to stop or seriously slow and go, it would limp along, begrudgingly. Upon hitting the windy 2 lane road snaking into the mountains, I thought I was going to have to go all Fred Flintstone to get there. We were lurching, sputtering, spitting, accelerating all over the mountain road. The only solace was it didn't look much different than all of the grammies and papas attempting to drive the same mountain roads and decide if they should stop yet again at another fudge store.

We limped into camp and hoped the short rest would do the van some good, but alas while attempting to leave and accelerate up a hill at a stop sign, we died. At least we had a view and an ice cream shop to enjoy. While the rest of the family enjoyed some fresh mountain ice cream, I began looking for the nearest Honda dealership I could find. Fortunately there was indeed one about 30 miles away in the direction we needed to be heading. We had to get there before they closed, it was going to be close. I'm sure the guys at the service center let out a big groan as we rolled into their service bay about 10 minutes before closing time. And of course, what happens anytime you attempt to take a car to the shop to diagnose a "mysterious" problem? Nothing! The 30 mile drive to the dealer was flawless, no lurching, no lunging, no sudden decelerations! So of course they couldn't find anything wrong. Great!

I will say they graciously tested, retested, drove around in it, etc... well after closing time in attempts to help us. Maybe it was the fact that kids kept pouring out of the van while I was desperately explaining the issue and that we were over 5 hours from home and 10 hours from our cross country destination. They surely felt sorry for us. None the less, despite their best efforts to reproduce the issue, none could be found. So off we went to dinner and then off toward Oklahoma. We had no further issues that evening. We headed out yesterday morning after staying somewhere in TN and drove most of the day yesterday without incident, before...
This was by far not as nice a spot for the van (which we have now named Lurch) to decide it was done for a while. So we grabbed some snacks, sat in the shade at a gas station for a while, topped off the tank and finally rolled on. We did this off and on for the last several hours until we finally got into Tulsa last night. For whatever reason, pulling over, topping off the gas tank and waiting about 5 minutes settled Lurch down for a while. It was like watching the later stages of a NASCAR race with splash and go pit stops, gas only, gas only! Don't you think we need 2 right side tires? No, just splash and go, go, go! We will be here until Thursday and will have to make some decisions about Lurch before schlepping back to Alabama. Of course everyone is voting for leave it, leave it! This is coming from everyone without a job, no financial planning time on their resume, and no responsibility other than to shower themselves occasionally and help do some chores, so we'll see what happens this week.

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