Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Sa-battle-cal starts..

I'm off on sabbatical, and we (two cars, two adults, two children and one cat) just started the long drive to Berkeley from SLC. This has turned out to be more exciting than I anticipated...

Our original plan was to drive 4 hours each day, making up the 12 hour drive to Berkeley in three days. With two drivers for two cars, this seemed like the best option to prevent us from getting over-tired.

Right at Wendover (Las Vegas for poor people!), about halfway on our first leg, my car broke down. Thankfully, I was able to coast it to a mechanic's shop just off the highway as we entered town. I had no clue what the problem was, and the mechanic wouldn't be able to take a look at it for a few hours (this is the week of the Bonneville races on the salt flats).

So I called my mechanic back in Salt Lake, and described the problem to him. He diagnosed it on the spot as a faulty ignition coil, which is apparently an easy part to procure and replace.... if you're near a dealership.

Which I was not...

He also needed me to figure out which coil was failing, which needed a computer scanner, which needed a mechanic.


Here's what needed to happen, in short order. It was now 5pm. We (my wife and I) needed to

  • get the mechanic to at least scan the car to get the appropriate error codes
  • Call the car parts store (closing at 6) to see if they could procure the needed parts
  • Find a hotel in Wendover (did I mention this was the week of the Bonneville Races, and almost everything in town was booked?)
  • Change our reservations downstream because we were stuck in Wendover. 
Thankfully, through a series of small miracles and the generosity of many strangers and non-strangers, we managed to get all of this done. My mechanic even offered to to walk me through the installation myself once I did the appropriate Youtube self-study (MOOCs FTW !!)

Long story short, it's now day II of our trek. We doubled up the driving on day II to make up for lost time, and we're back on schedule (minus one set of car keys that I managed to lose in all the hurry). 

So far, this sabbatical is certainly not relaxing. 

p.s Shout out to Utah Imports of SLC, and S&R auto repair in Wendover. 

p.p.s I-80 through Nevada is one of the most mind-numbingly boring drives imaginable. 

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