Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day Two: 100° Dessert, Hail, and Cycling

Yesterday was much more adventuresome than anything so far. We continued to listen to HP7 and enjoyed the countryside as we drove around the side of LA and crossed into Arizona on our way to our good friends Caleb and Anna’s house. As we drove through the dessert we saw some small random dark clouds not far ahead with a bunch of lightening with it. We drove straight into a super heavy downpour that cut visibility down to about 50 feet and in the middle there was even hail. We drove through it in about two minutes and it was right back to super hot again. Then, about 7:00 that evening for the first time in over 4,000 miles of driving this summer we had a mechanical issue. It was entirely my fault too. We ran out of gas about 40 miles outside of Phoenix. I was driving and had in my head that we would stop for dinner and get gas at the same time. Since we were listening to Harry Potter I hadn’t paid much attention to how many miles it had been since the gas light came on. In my two previous cars, once it got to empty you still had a solid gallon left.

It turns out Japanese engineering designed E to mean absolutely empty. We passed a station with a Subway and Carolyn didn’t really want that again so I decided to keep going. I looked at the fuel gage and it was on E. I knew there was a town only 15 miles further so we pressed on.

When we got out of the car Carolyn said, “I wish you wouldn’t have pushed it.” She was so gracious, and she wasn’t mad for long at all. I just kept apologizing because I felt dumb and was very impressed by her good attitude. It’s just funny how you get in your head how it’s going to be and we were stopping for dinner so I waited. We were 7 miles past the last station and we weren’t sure how much further to the next. The dessert isn’t the best place to break down, but fortunately we had AAA. Membership expired, no go. Our bikes were in the racks on top of the car. So, we got them down and started riding to the next exit. It was 6 miles to the gas station and I made Carolyn wear the only helmet we had. I went inside the truck stop to buy a gas can and they were all out. There I stood at a gas station, really sweaty, and no way to bring gas back to the car.

I was determined not to have to ride to another gas station so I started looking for large containers. They had gallons of milk and I thought that might do the trick. Then I saw gallons of water for cheaper. So, I bought two gallons of water, dumped them out and filled them up with gas. The sun was setting as I left Carolyn at the gas station to ride back to the car alone. It was a gorgeous ride back with dark silhouettes of gigantic cacti framed by the pink sun set. It very beautiful and so different from any other ride I’ve taken before (also the most dangerous- I didn’t have any lights and I was riding on the side of the freeway).

I arrived at the car to realize I had no effective way to get the gas into the tank. The water jug spouts were just like milk jugs and I couldn’t get it close enough to the actual tank hole. Plus there was that flap in the way. The first ¼ gallon went straight down the side of the car into the dust of the dessert. It just wasn’t working. Thoughts started passing through my head of not getting enough into the tank for the car to start and having to repeat the entire dark road course again. So then I started rummaging through my tool box buried in the back of the car looking for a knife to cut a water bottle into a spout. Of course I couldn’t find it. So I ended up taking a long screw driver to push that little flap up, held the flash light in my mouth to see where I was pouring (it was totally dark now), and used the lid of a yogurt container folded in half as a funnel to get the gas in. It worked albeit very awkwardly and we got to our friends house only 1 ½ hours later than expected. Now I know my car so much better and realize that when the needle gets all the way down to E it means there isn’t anything left.

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