Friday, January 19, 2007

Just as well

Thursdays have been interesting as of late, especially with regard to transportation.

Now, the plan was that I would take the motorcycle to work, and, around noon, Deborah would drop the kids off at Tonya's house, come home, switch cars, and drive to her work, and then to her class in Ft. Wayne. Once I got off of work, I would then ride the motorcycle home, switch to the car Deborah had left (the one with car seats; you think we can afford four of those things?) and go pick up the kids from Tonya's house.

But that was not to be...

I got bundled up and trudged out into the pre-dawn darkness. I put the key in the bike, fiddled with a few levers, and ... RrrrrRRRrrrrrrrrRrrrr[click]. I tried again. And again. And again. The bike wouldn't start. I muttered something along the lines of how some engineer thought motorcycles were only for warm-weather use, and went hunting for the trickle charger to hook up to the battery. Couldn't find it. Somewhat grumpy, I went and warmed up the car, resigning myself to a good ten minutes of windshield-scraping. When I went to open the driver's side door, the button stuck, and I couldn't open it. I got in the passenger-side door, and then that one wouldn't close. (Too bad statistics don't work in real life. If I have one door that opens, and one door that closes, then on average, I have one working door, right?) When I finally got to work, and shut off the car, the engine kept running, slow and shaky, like an old Harley. Dieseling, I think it's called. That's weird, I'll have to check the coolant, I thought, and then promptly forgot.

At lunch, I made a quick side trip to AutoZone and got a new trickle charger. I was pleased to discover that the one I wanted was on sale, and that they had new connectors — ones that are the same kind as I use for the electric vest. Hooray! Now I dont have to ride around all winter with the side panel off the bike — I can just unplug the vest and plug in the charger. I zipped home quick to hook it up. When I went to go back to work, I noticed that the car was sitting in a pool of it's own antifreeze.


Now what?

I have a car out of commission, a motorcycle that won't be ridable for another few hours, Deborah needs the other car, and I'm already behind enough in my hours as it is. Well... bicycle it is, then!

Soon after I got to work, Deborah called and reported that she had found some one (Abby) to come watch the kids for a few hours. I'd have to go home at 6:00 rather than at 3:00. Hey, I might be able to get all my hours in after all...

Around 5:00, it began to rain. And freeze. (For you readers in California, this is called "glare ice" or "black ice" and is hard to stand up on, never mind driving.) at 6:00, I began inching my way home on foot, using the bicycle as a sort of cane. I felt rather grateful that Winona Lake, for all it's odd ideas, had decided to go ahead with the Heritage Trail greenway path, which kept me off of the streets for 90% of my walk/ride/slide home.

While I was getting the kids ready for bed, Duane from church called. They were having a Car Care clinic this weekend; did I need anything done to any of my cars? Why yes, actually...

Deborah finally made it home after her class around 9:00, having had adventures of her own driving slowly along some of the unsanded stretches of highway between here and Ft. Wayne. (Note to the Californians: You don't plan a 100-mile round trip if you know there's going to be freezing rain involved.)

At the end of the day, though, several things were evident:

  • We all got where we needed to go, and got home, safe and sound.

  • Neither of us had to go anywhere or pick up anyone in a coolant-free car.

  • The two-wheeled vehicle I got to guide home on the ice was a 20 lb. bicycle, not a 400 lb. motorcycle. (I've done the latter; it's not on my list of experiences I'd care to repeat.)

  • Deborah had the best car for the job — the only front-wheel drive vehicle we own.

Sometimes I think God takes care of us by letting things break down that we think we need!


Jonadab said...

Wow, what a complicated fiasco. My family has had its share of vehicular troubles from time to time, and sometimes it seems like they're all acting up at once, but I don't think there have ever been that many surprises in one day, even with four cars and four drivers.

Jonadab said...

Oh, another thing:

Glare ice is only hard to stand up on if you grew up in a warm climate. Those of us who have lived all our lives in a place that has winter had to learn how to negotiate it when we were children. And really, it's not that hard. Indeed, I tend to move faster on ice than on asphalt, because it's possible to do it with less energy expended, because you can cover the same distance with fewer steps. Nonetheless, it's very different, and would take significant practice to become proficient as an adult.

As for driving on it... I'm not sure I'd want to attempt that. Certainly with the bicycle I'd have done what you did: dismount and walk beside the thing.

Edwin Kerr said...

Something about the picture of Bree and the antifreeze puddle makes it look as if the car is floating about three feet off the ground. Maybe it's just--you know--an optical delusion.

Andy said...

Something about the picture of Bree and the antifreeze puddle makes it look as if the car is floating about three feet off the ground. Maybe it's just--you know--an optical delusion.

I had to take a good long look at this, but I see what you're saying. I think it's an effect of a) the flash changing the lighting angle, b) the "shadow" cast by the car in the snow---that is, the area of pavement not covered in snow looks like a drop shadow, and c) the fact that I've cropped the photo with the car significantly higher than the "middle" of the picture.