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Jurassic Road Trip


So here's the REST of the story. After having my trusted mechanic check out the Vette and having driven it for over a year for short hauls to town and back, to St. Michaels and back (45 minutes each way) and feeling pretty confident I had worked out all the bugs, I planned on its first road trip. The first leg was from our home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, across the Bay Bridge, up 97 to Baltimore Beltway, then west on I-70. Drove three hours in some light traffic reaching the halfway point in Hancock Maryland. Stopped for about 30 minutes for breakfast (french toast, eggs, bacon).

Went out, got in the car, turned the key...nothing. No, no ruh...ruh...ruh...nothing. I checked to make sure it was in park, even tried neutral. Nothing. Now then, it was a new battery last year and as I said I have been driving it for several months this season and had just finished a three hour 200+ mile jaunt with good readings on the ammeter, running cool with good oil pressure.

I went inside and the manager of Park and Dine (highly recommend this establishment) who had one of those battery packs. Hooked it up. Nothing. This one young waitress, couldn't have been more than 17-18 and couldn't have been nicer got on her cell phone and called Roland who had a service station down the road. You could read the sign "ROLANDS" from the restaurant. He agreed to have a look and within five minutes he was there with his battery pack. Nothing. I popped the hood he told me to turn it over...nothing. He said he guessed it was the starter. He would not take any money and he went back to work. Helps knowing people.

My waitress was still out there with me and suggested I call “Lock and Key”, another place she knew about, but before I could get the number from her she was calling. They said they were a AAA agent, but needed a call from AAA, so I called AAA. I played the thousand questions game and tried to give her addresses of where I lived, billing address and where (thank you Miss Waitress) the nearest Chevy Dealer was. Five minutes up the road, Douglas Chevrolet. She was still asking questions and I asked her, "Do I have to call Lock and Key? and she said no she would handle that but had more questions for me. While I am answering the questions, up pulls Lock and Key Rollback. I told the lady on the line from AAA, "Look I will answer your questions later, the tow truck is here I gotta go."

He hooked me up, drove up the Douglas Chevrolet and the Service Manager came out to greet us. We rolled the Vette off and he told me to have a seat inside and he would let me know what he could do with the starter. It might be a couple of days, he said, I told him I was trying to reach my daughter who was less than two hours away . I grabbed by belongings , gave him the key and sat down to wait. In less than ten minutes the service manager comes in, tells me, "I went in to roll up your windows, and just on a hunch turned the key and started right up. Tried it a few times. I think it's the starter, probably has a flat spot on it. You can drive it but need a starter or a “bend dicks” before long." Sounded dirty but I thanked him, asked him what I owed him, "No charge" and I went back inside, grabbed my belongings and fired her up and headed back to the highway stopping to fill up with gas.

I drove for another two hours to Cumberland, holding 70 for most of it, dipping to 65 or 75 on occasion, not pushing it. Arrived at the Greene Street Exit to 220 South to Keyser and tried to call Sade to have her meet me there about equidistant from our current locations, me in Cumberland and she in Mt. Storm. When I pulled off the exit I stopped at the first gas station to call the land line, her cell phone, text. Never got them because she was on her way to Keyser, in the mountains with no reception. I put the phone up, pull back onto the highway and the car hesitates. Engine humming but not picking up speed. I drive a mile or two and the condition is getting worse so I pull off again and shut her down. Maybe let her cool off and try her again. I pull the transmission dip stick, full of red fluid. Not out of fluid. After about ten minutes I start her back up, she fires right up, I hit the gas and she moves, but more like 50-60% power. I drive a mile or two more watching the gauges, move from the flats to a slight hill and nope, she will not pull the hill. I pull her off to the side of the road in front of a wide driveway and that is it for the day.

Took almost 90 minutes for tow truck #2 to show, but he did, we loaded her up again, and off to Timbrook Chevrolet in Keyser with the second AAA guy. I was told AAA would pay for the first 5 miles, then it was $4.00 for any additional miles. I did the math, 16 miles to Keyser so 11 miles $44 bucks. No problem.

Sade was waiting at Timbrook Chevrolet when we pulled in and we off-loaded my three bags and photo albums for the second leg of my road trip to Southwest Virginia next week. I talked with the service manager and gave her my information and headed to McDonald’s for my large vanilla comfort food shake. "Sorry...our machine is closed for cleaning." "God DAMN!" I exclaimed loudly as we headed to Dairy Queen. Last road trip with dinosaurs ! Taking my Tacoma for the Virginia Trip. DAMN!

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