Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Vans

It all started with a simple plan: borrow a van to get my pet portrait paintings and 6-foot display screens to and from Olde Salem Days on Saturday.

I should preface this with the explanation that two weeks ago my trusty 2000 Durango blew a gasket. “Blowing a gasket” was one of my Daddy’s favorite expressions. When I was growing up I didn’t know what it really meant, except that somebody was mad. In this case, the gasket is deep in deep in the Durango’s bowels, the timing cover gasket.

After taking powderpuff auto mechanics when I had a slant-6 1965 Dodge Dart, I know a fair amount about what’s where inside engines, but a timing cover gasket that causes the car to leak like a sieve and blow clouds of steam is a new one on me. I figured it was the water pump, or a stuck thermostat or something related, once I could tell it wasn’t the radiator or the hoses.

At any rate, the Durango is sidelined until I can get it fixed.

One of the main reasons I picked out a Durango was for the 6-foot-carrying space for fall craft shows, and here I was days away from my first one of the season.

I arranged to borrow a van that was beat-up but ran. My sweet husband spent a couple of hours on Friday packing the wire screens, wooden screens, boxes of my Animal Art by Meg paintings and framed ones into the van while I was at work. I was feeling so positive about the whole thing, being packed hours before Saturday morning. Hah!

At 5:30 Friday evening, I went out to start the van to drive to Salem that evening to take a photograph. Nothing. It was deader than a doornail (where did that expression come from, anyway?)

Bill had already left to teach a master’s level class in marketing at National College, and wouldn’t be home until about 10 p.m.

I started calling neighbors, and got no answer at the first three. The fourth didn’t have jumper cables. We did. Ted Lineberry generously came over to jump the old van. It wouldn’t even turn over.

He decided it was something other than the battery. I wasn’t so sure, but bummed a ride with him back to Salem and borrowed a second van.

So far, so good, even though it meant the prospect of unloading and reloading everything in the dark of night. Bill was willing, but not the happiest of campers, especially when we couldn’t get the rear door of the second van open. It opened for me two hours earlier, I promise.

So he jumped the older van with the newer one, and left it running for awhile. It started, and all was well with the world.

Until the next morning. At 6:45 a.m. when I climbed in and shut the driver’s door, it bounced back. The locking mechanism was frozen. Olde Salem Days starts whether or not you’re there to set up. Bill handed over a bungee cord, and I strapped the door closed by hooking it to the seat belt connector. I wouldn’t have tried this except that the trip was a little over 2 miles each way, and on back streets.

The old van performed just fine, except for the door. I left a note on the keys and was glad to return it to its home.

Editor’s note: My Durango is fixed, back and I am soooooooo happy to have wheels that work again. I can’t say enough good things about Rick Yopp and his Riverside Auto in Salem. Less than 24 hours after the Durango was towed to his shop, he had her fixed. – Meg

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