Friday, July 17, 2009

The best laid plans -

Ah, well. We didn't make it to Butte, Montana, but we did get as far as Missoula, about two hours west of there. The day was very complicated. First of all, I woke up with a sore throat (remember, I'm supposed to sing with my sister in a few days, so this is cause for a bit of panic), so for the first four hours of the trip - all along the 35 mph freshly-oiled section of Hwy 395, and beyond - we were popping into various drugstores in search of Cold FX, which it appears nobody in eastern Washington has heard of. I just discovered that my Wyoming sister hasn't heard of it either, so I have a feeling this cold, if it happens, will have to run its course without any herbal roadblocks in its way.

Anyway, I gave up on the Cold FX, and we kept going, got onto the I-90, and drove through an awful lot of construction zones all the way through Washington and Idaho, into Montana. Nine miles east of the Idaho/Montana border, as we were coming down a steep hill in one of the construction zones, the engine quit.

Fortunately, my husband was driving at the time. I have doubts about my ability to manhandle the steering wheel under those circumstances. He put the Turtle in neutral and we coasted along, trying from time to time to re-start the engine. It would start, but then it would die again, almost immediately. A mile later, we came to a turn-off toward something called St. Regis. There was a tiny village at the exit, with another S- name that I've forgotten. It had a bar, so we sidled up there, having left the rig parked on the very wide shoulder. We weren't at all sure how to get ourselves rescued, because we had no bars at all on our cell phones, so we inquired about local tow companies, local mechanics, what might possibly be our problem - and one of the guys at the bar said it might be vapour lock. Duh. Because we were going downhill when it happened, that had never occurred to either of us - but I speculated that perhaps the problem had arisen just as we were cresting the hill, and it just took a minute or so for the engine to die.

We were much cheered. Vapour lock sounded a whole lot better than the fuel pump/fuel injection/computer problems we had been postulating. We walked back to the Turtle, opened all the vents and windows - as it was still 30C outside - and I prepared a soup, salad, sandwich dinner. By the time we had eaten and cleaned up the kitchen, the engine had cooled some, and we went on our way. That was about ninety miles back, and the problem hasn't recurred. We're going with the Vapour Lock Theory until and unless we're proved wrong.

All this stopping and starting did throw us behind schedule, though. Tomorrow, we plan to drive to Billings, Montana. That will put us four hours from Casper, Wyoming, our destination. I talked to my sister tonight and told her to expect us at noon on Sunday.

Things I did not get pictures of today: Several - half a dozen or so - blades for wind turbines - great huge things - on flatbeds at the side of the highway. I kept forgetting to bring my camera up to the front. It probably wouldn't have come to much, anyway, as they were very close to the road and I probably wouldn't have been able to get a whole blade into a photograph. It was like sitting in an airliner and looking out at the wing.

However, I can post the first of the photos I was talking about last night. This was taken at Hope, B.C., looking out across the Fraser River. At least I think it was the Fraser River I was looking at. A very old European gentleman accosted me as I was getting back into the Turtle after taking the photo. He asked me if I knew what that water was. I told him it was the Fraser River, as far as I knew. And where does the Fraser River arise? he asked. I couldn't tell him. He advised me that in the time of the Nazis, I would have been shot. Well, excuse me.


John Hayes said...

Definitely pulling for vapor lock. That sounds like one weird old dude you ran across by the Fraser River!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Shooting seems like a rather drastic measure, doesn't it?

I love that you are including us in your travels. I am enjoying my mini-vacation, and most grateful that you two are picking up the tab for the travel;)

Hoping that your cold is simply dry throat.....

Sandra Leigh said...

Weird, indeed, John - and very talkative. He said he had had an injury that affected his short-term memory. I think it also made him less than tactful. It made me grateful that if I cut him off and retreated to the Turtle post-haste, he would forget about me in a few minutes. So that's what I did.

Audrey, I'm glad you're enjoying the trip. Dry throat sounds good to me. It's certainly dry here.

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