Friday, June 30, 2006

On the matter of speaking too soon...

Well, well, well. Shall I dispense with the bad news first, or the good? How 'bout the good, yes?

It was a beautiful day today. I awoke feeling rested, caught some of the Argentina vs. Germany World Cup game while getting ready, and headed off to work on schedule. Klamath Lake was a gorgeous landscape of still waters and reflections of puffy clouds and green mountains. It was nice and toasty in the car, and I couldn't help smiling as I buzzed down the highway listening to Postal Service, Bloc Party, Matt Pond PA, and Death Cab for Cutie. Good times. Good times.

It wasn't until I walked out of unnamed place X in unnamed town Y to see the front end of my car in quite a shambles. Turns out the gentleman parked next to me in his extended cab long-bed F250 cut it a little to close while pulling out of the parking spot next to me, and ripped off my front bumper. I arrived to find it hanging by a corner, looking quite sad. I thought to myself, "Wow! What crazy fortune I am having this trip." and cordially exchanged insurance information with the fellow.

After bungee cording my bumper to the rest of the vehicle, I proceeded with my day's work. I thought it would give Maree a kick to tell her that someone ran over the front of my car and that it was God's way of telling me I needed to replace my front right turn signal. We both had a laugh, and since I was roaming at the time, I got off the phone and went along my merry way. No ripped off bumper was going to ruin my fun; that's what bungee cords are for anyways.

My fun was to last only a minute or two after hanging up with Maree. All of a sudden my entire car died. I'm going 70mph on I-5 and the pup just shuts off. I try to reboot, nada. I pop the clutch to force the engine to spin, nada. I coast to a stop on the shoulder, and she's dead as a doornail. First thing I check is the alternator, since it was the last change to the system. It's still there, plugs plugged in, belt firmly in place. I noticed that the clip that secures the wiring harness to the alternator had lost its nut and was hanging loosely, but this should not be a problem since it is only a mount and not electrically charged. Next in my mind are the fuses. I pull all the ones under the dash out, and they're solid. Next I go hunting about in the engine compartment looking for the larger fuses, and I locate the bugger. It's the main 60 amp fuse in the fuse block and she's toast.

Luckily we went kaput right next to an exit, and now I've got a hotel room, four, make that three, Budweisers left, some BBQ potato chips, and a plan. I'm going to hoof it two miles down to the NAPA parts store tomorrow morning and get another fuse and a nut to resecure the wiring harness. Hopefully I'll be on my way. Until then, she sits alone, abandoned on the side of the interstate, wondering where I am and when I'm coming back.

Until then, I'm gonna kick back, have some beers and smoke some cigarettes. And damn if the Comfort Inn ain't nice. With its real wood furniture, kitchenette, and free shampoo. Word! Wish me luck! :)
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My what a week/Signs

Well, the move is nearing completion. We've just about got the house situated the way we like, and made a start at an herb garden. Tell you what, I can't believe how great this place is! It just gets more and more comfortable as we go on.

Earlier this week my laptop from work decided to go kaput, turns out the motherboard was a bit crispy 'round the AC plug area. This put a delay in me starting my route, and consequently allowed me to see Point Juncture, WA at the Doug Fir Lounge last night. After seeing my long-time friends totally vibe together and put on a solid inspiring show, I feel rejuvenated. I guess that was good, because today put my high spirits to the test. With my laptop repaired by a friendly Dell tech, I set of to begin my 1,000 mile trip through southern Oregon and Northen California.

As I crossed Blue Box Pass east of Government Camp today, one of my dummy lights came on in the instrument panel. This was cause for concern. Was is that my wet cells in my battery had dried up due to the 100+ degree heat from the weekend, or was it something worse? Turns out is was something worse. My alternator decided to call it quits today while I was many miles from the next town. My dash lights slowly dimming, clock completely dead, and all accessories shut down to conserve power and lessen the load, I coasted into Madras to have my worst fears confirmed by a friendly auto parts guy. The alternator was most certainly the culprit. He suggested I try to make it to Redmond and see if I could find a shop. When I arrived in Redmond, I pulled into the first parts store I could find, and the car abruptly died. Boo. The nice man there told me that their store in Bend had a remanufactured alternator, and that if we stuck a new battery in, I could make it there and pick up the alternator.

I would say that I'm decently handy with tools and cars and what have you, but my car manufacturer one-upped my skillz for sure. It was no problem to disconnect the electrical elements and unbolt the alternator from the bracket, the trick was HOW THE HELL DO I GET IT OUT OF THE ENGINE BAY??? I pulled, I pushed, I shimmied, I squeezed, I cursed, and I furrowed the brow, none of these efforts proving fruitful. There just wasn't enough room between the intake manifold and the firewall to get it out. I was nearing the point of despair when along came some very nice locals who asked me what I was up to, and upon hearing that I was trying to extricate an alternator, immediately postponed whatever plans they had and came to my rescue. We ended up unbolting one of the motor mounts, sliding my 2-ton floor jack underneath the oil pan, and jacking the engine up whilst prying it away from the firewall with a pick axe!

Long story short, I went from feeling totally screwed and helpless, hundreds of miles from home, to saved in a matter of an hour. These kind gentlemen refused any form of payment and departed as swiftly as they had arrived. To my disbelief, I was driving a functional car again, so soon after flirting with feelings of hope lost. Wow. Thank you, whoever you are, for aiding a fellow human in a time of need. Thank you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

In the driveway today. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 9, 2006

Falls Creek falls

I went for a hike yesterday on the Washington side of the gorge on the Falls Creek Trail. It was a gently climbing, 1.7 mile hike along the watercourse, ending at a cul-de-sac of large basalt boulders and a spectacular view of the falls. There were two large terraces the water cascaded over before plunging into a misty, verdant punchbowl. I noticed an improvised trail up the side of the falls, and clambored as high up as I felt I could crab-man back down. I got a little dirt under the nails and had a couple moments where I thought it could go either way, but the view from the first and second terraces was well worth the extra effort.

The creek was mellow near the trailhead.

Creek crossing over a rock lined chasm.

I believe this is a Trillium plant.

A typical NW forest, moss, ferns, decomposing tress.

A smaller example of what was to come.

The puncbowl.

The first and second terraces.

The water went off three sides of this outcrop. Note the small green tree over the left side of the falls.

Here's the tree and me, right by the edge. I'd of inched closer to the edge for a better shot, but I was already feeling the vertigo coming on.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Our new home....from outer space.

Today we put the deposit down on our superfantastic new home. It's half of a duplex that's 30 seconds from the interstate, though we don't hear it, and only a few blocks from a 24 hour QFC, a Shell station with cheap gas, and a smattering of asian and mexican restaurants.

It's an 1150sq ft two bed, one bath home, with a full basement, a wood burning fire place, hardwood floors throughout, built in linen closet and bookshelf, somthing like six closets, and picture windows. There's a greenhouse in the backyard and a garage to share. There's a lot of space to plant as well, and we are really excited to finally have an herb and vegetable garden going again. It's basically all we've ever wanted short of an entire house.