For reasons too complicated to be worth mentioning, I found myself driving from Denver to Utah by myself today. I left at five o'clock this morning and was making GREAT time. If you have ever driven across Wyoming, you know that there is the slightest sigh of relief as you approach each "city." There is a feeling of having once again safely encountered civilization. I was driving through the dead zone between Laramie and Rawlins (about 100 miles of nothing but windmills and sagebrush) when the unthinkable happened. There was a loud clunk and an chilling scrape coming from under my car.
(Aside--the clunk sounded exactly as if it came from the location where my husband said the muffler seemed it was going bad. PLEASE do not ask why I failed to get the car to a mechanic before the road trip. Suffice it to say that when you own two cars with over 100,000 miles each, you try to only make ONE trip to the mechanic a week. We'd already met our quota.)
I slowed quickly and pulled over to the shoulder, put on the hazards and got on all fours to look at the undercarriage. I would like to say that I didn't swear, but remember, I was alone. The kids are with daddy. The part of the muffler that actually connects to the engine in the center of the chassis was on the ground, smoking hot. Now remember, I am in the middle of the desert, twenty miles from the nearest city. Oh, yeah, and my husband had the cell phone.
My choices were bleak--try to flag somebody down (and end up murdered) or drive, on the shoulder, at about ten miles an hour, all the way to Rawlins so that the sparks from the muffler didn't cause the car to explode. Nice.
Just before utter panic could set in, a semi-truck pulls over to the side of the road and puts on its hazards. I'm thinking, "Okay, maybe I will be murdered before I even get a chance to flag someone down." Sure enough, the truckdriver gets out and begins walking toward me. At least, I think he is a truck driver--he was young, wearing flipflops and abercrombie shorts with a vintage rock tee-shirt. I think I said something really friendly like, "Hey dude, thanks for stopping." Dude?
Well, my car was full of stuff (I was actually moving from Colorado to Utah), some of which belonged to my sister-in-law who is moving to go to college. I guess he thought it was all my stuff because he started chatting me up like a 19-year old coed. Maybe it was just his personality, his friendly, flirtatious banter changed very little when I told him about my husband and two children. Anyway, his suggestion was to take the muffler off completely. Um . . . okay? Before I could really answer, he was under the car yanking at the part that was actually still attached.
Removing the muffler seemed like a better option than being the victim of a violent crime or going down in a fiery inferno, so I agreed by not saying anything. After several minutes, and the use of the leatherman I carry in my purse (I know, McGyver would be proud), there was one more rusty piece of scrap metal on the side of the road in Wyoming.
About mile marker 270 if you are looking for a used muffler . . . .
The drive home was very noisy as there wasn't a shop in Wyoming that could do the fix before FRIDAY. So I just turned up the radio. The result, seven hours in the car later, is a ringing in my ears and head that I hope subsides tomorrow.
Despite my setbacks, I have to say that this day to myself has been very refreshing and unique in the life of a mother. I could stop as often or as seldom as I wanted. And I drove VERY fast. But the best part was singing as loud as I wanted to MY music--Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood (FOUR albums worth), Matchbox 20, Midnight Oil, Kim Ritchey, Martina McBride, Keith Urban. Oh, yeah, I mentioned him. Well, while we are at it, lets christen today as "Hug a cute Aussie Musician Day" also.
That is enough blogging for my first day; it is actually pretty frightening how easy this is. I have thought for a while about starting one, but I didn't think I had anything interesting to say, and maybe I still don't. Perhaps this message is my feeble attempt to send some kind of thankyou out to Luis the truckdriver from Miami who unwittingly answered a very sincere, foxhole prayer today.