Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Back home and Alive

Well I am back in St. Louis and alive and well. My Victor/Victoria is performing as well as could be expected after major surgury. I will post pictures from my trip at the pictures section on my site. Its been an eventful weekend so I'll just let you know all that went on.

I left St. Louis on Tuesday morning later than I wanted to, at about 10 am. Working nights I should have gotten some sleep, but I just wanted to be sure I was at least going after all the times in the past I have bailed on her. Outside of Cuba, MO (yes there is a Cuba, MO and it does have a "Peoples Bank of Cuba" LOL) I had started to nod of and I was hoping to get to Rolla before I pulled over to nap. However, there were diferent plans. I had that nods, and nodded and slipped onto the shoulder and recovered just before I hit a State Trooper. Said State Trooper then pulled me over and suggested I pull over and get some sleep! I pulled over at the next exit and slep for about 6 or 7 hours. I then went back on the road after stopping in Cuba and getting me a Hardee's burger.

I went on down and stopped in Springfield, MO for Gas. It had been the cheapest I would encounter on the way down, at $1.98. Before I got started I knew that Springfield had the least expensive gas in the state. I topped off there and then again in Oklahoma at $2.06. Throughout the Choctaw Nation, gas averaged about 10 cents more than what I had encountered earlier. I didn't get gas till later on the other side of the Texas border at $2.03 a gallon. Driving continued through the night passing into Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday morning, I arrived at Stephanie's apartment with a rather humerous phone call. Its one of those things. You get directions and sure thing you are walking into the door talking on the cell phone listening to someone else talking on the other end of the conversation. :-) Anyway, we got aquainted again and had a little fun watching movies on her DVD player. It got a lot of use this weekend as it always does. She has a lot of DVD's and watches a lot of her favorite TV series on DVD. We watched some Alton Brown and I listened to her complain about a lot of the bizarre changes they have done over at the Food Network.

I got aquainted with her cats again. She has a couple of sweet cats who are her constant companions and really break the loneliness she has. She does nothing really but sit in a room all alone and watch TV all day. Sometimes she has a visit from a nurse. She said that one came by to pull blood for a test on Monday. She was really jaundiced, very yellow in color and looked so pitiful. I dont know what her family and church should be thinking. I feel guilty about this as well. I should be down there but am not. I got my Mom and family here and we have or problems to worry about. Just not as life threatening as Stephanie's are.

Anyway, I ran some erands on Thursday and then got some rest. Friday I ran her computers in and got them set up to work on. The nice guys at Circuit City in North Ft. Worth should be commended on their dilligence and courtesy as well as their quick work on fixing Stephanie's laptop so that she could use it again. What they said was a three day job turned out to be a days job and I picked it up on Saturday Morning. The rest of Friday was spent detail cleaning and vacuuming her apartment, something in her weakened state she had been unable to do in months.

I left to go home on Saturday, but the Alternator on the Victor/Victoria failed outside of Sherman, Texas. No way I was going to make it home. Got a used one installed from a bubba towing service in Sherman. I called into work and let them know, and returned to her apartment. I left from there on Sunday morning and about 1 in the afternoon, I noticed that the tempature gage was high and then I noticed the smell. Oh that sickening sweet smell of coolant and then I nursed it to the next exit which turned out to be Checotah, OK.

Checotah (pronounced like Dakota) is a small town south of McCalister, OK. I was at a wide spot on the road essentially, but pulled it into the Walmart parking lot that was there. They have a fairly large Walmart and I hoped that maybe filling it with coolant would let me nurse it to some place that would have an auto repair place open on Sunday. I put the coolant in the recovery bottle and there just didn't look like a place to put it into the radiator directly. The water didn't take and wasn't flowing into the engine so rather than risk making it worse, I parked it at the O'Riley Auto Parts store and went in to ask them about what a water pump would cost. They pulled one from the store in McCalister and it would be back at the store about 2 in the afternoon on Monday.

So, resigned to the fact I would be in the town all night, I decided to check into the local hotel. I walked a mile and crossed under the highway to the hotel. The bridge would make this wonderful sound whenever a vehicle would cross over it. I had to wonder if the bridge would hold. But it held and I arrived at the hotel. It cost me $50 and would get me my first night in a bed in many days as I had to sleep on the floor at Stephanie's since she had no bed. I slept a while and then woke up and went to my car to gather some belongings so I could have a decent shower. After that, I went to the Flying J Truck Stop across the road and got me some dinner. then went back to watch some TV and went to sleep.

I woke up and called one of the repair places that was recommended to me by Dave at O'Riley. I actually got them befor they opened and the nice guy at D & J Auto Repair picked me up at the hotel and took me to the car. We took a look at it for a minute and we started it to look at the engine. At the outset it wasn't the water pump but then we figured we could drive it to the shop. After getting it to the shop we hooked up a presurization pump to see where the leak was. The coolant must have been low because it took at least a couple of gallons before we could get enough coolant to see what was leaking. The pump forced teh water out an literally gushing it onto the ground. Not a good sign. So I went back to the hotel to pick up my stuff, checked out and returned to the shop.

Turned out eventually that it was a manifold resouver which sits atop the engine. The front of it had developed a split which probably started out small. The mechanic told me there was really nothing I could do maintenance wise to detect this. It was something hidden that just showed itself now. The split was so large that no amount of coolant I put in would have allowed me to get anywhere. I kept the part and have it in my trunk.

The nice guys at D & J, in spite of being McCain supporters, made the afternoon go by nice. My real problem was that I didn't have enough money to help me get the repair done. I actually had to borrow part of it from my Mom and then get my sister-in-law to take her to Walmart to send it to me. I got the call I had been waiting for at almost 4:15 and ran over to Walmart to pick it up. Paying for my repairs, I hoped into my now repaired car and finally could get onto the road. I spent the night driving and arived at home around 5 in the morning. Thanking God, I went to sleep.

I am glad that everyone put me in their prayers and I am sure that all you did helped. Things have really turned bad here and this trip took a lot of things out of me. I don't know if financially I will be able to get out of this. God will help, I am sure. I have a lot of stress and I at the point of just wanting to give up. I have muddled through on life, but I can't just seem to find the energy to go on. Helping Stephanie was a nice thing, but it cost me so much.

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I am interested in CNG vehicles because they are good for the environment and aren't powered by dead Marines. I still have a little hope for the world. Read the musings and enjoy.