Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So Near, and Yet...

December 2, 1970 Wednesday
Everything was buried under mounds of snow this morning. Oatus started right up but the Family Dog had to be pushed and shoved all over the place before he finally got going and that didn't last for long. About two miles down the road, the Dog started sputtering and losing power.
I pulled off and tore into the engine room. The carburetor was icing up and when Oatus returned, we pulled the spark plugs and found them badly fouled. A quick clean-up and we were on the road again, as far as Arctic (a very chilly place), where Oatus stalled out. There wasn't enough juice in the 12-volt battery to kick him over again.
Arctic consists of a gas station (sort of) which seems to be perpetually closed. The tiny parking lot consists of one slush-filled pothole with numerous ruts thrown in for ambiance. I got behind Oatus with the Family Dog and shoved and pushed and grunted and strained, with no visible effect. Soon, however, we were joined by two fellows driving by in a telephone truck who loaned us the use of their backs. With this combined help, we finally got that Oatusonofabitch clattering and smoking again.
By that time, the Family Dog's plugs were fouled and the carburetor was icing up again. I ripped out the heat baffle, taped up the carburetor with insulation tape, adjusted the points, cleaned the plugs, and got the hell out of there. It appears this journey is going to be a blood and guts battle right up to the very last.
Off into the driving snow once again – we're a pretty band of harassed refugees. At last we emerged from the wilds and ran into Interstate 5, which we have been dreading for some time now. Unfortunately it's the only way into Seattle, and we are not too keen on piloting pokey, disintegrating old Oatus in swift waters.
We made a last gas stop thirty miles south of our destination and made a detour off the Interstate and onto Highway 99. Chris is expecting that undersized piston to blow at any time and doesn't want to be stuck in rush hour traffic when it does.
However, we did pay a price for this decision. As we chugged into Federal Way, we were captured again, this time by the Washington State Patrol, and taken to one of their temples of money-changing to be held for ransom. It appears that they don't like our brakes or steering any better than the California Copgoblins. They, at least, have an acceptable solution. All we have to do is pay them $30 and everything will be hunky-dory again.