This is part 3 of a 4-part misadventure Mental embarked on in a $400 minivan sans AC. After being awake for 41 hours the Lumina MPV had let them down and was being attended to by a team of misguided and certainly intoxicated mechanics…
As promised, the van was running the next AM, but still required some new parts. The nearest parts store a few minutes down the road, next to the aforementioned Alabama Museum. Dekalb Auto Parts, it is a true independent family owned auto parts store. Sticking out of the side of the building is the back half of a Datsun station wagon. They were well stocked, knowledgeable and found the parade of festive colored crapcans rather interesting. If you are ever in Ft Payne Alabama, give them your business.
Again, off the hapless travelers beset on that days adventures. Again, we were late to depart. It began with scenic tour through Desoto State Park and quickly became another roadside repair.
But it wasn’t us! Ha!
The Saab released its fuel tank after a jarring pothole, because both rusted retaining bands finally snapped. What could have been an epic disaster along the freeway was a minor annoyance at 20 MPH. Between the three vehicles, we reconstructed both bands with ratchet straps layered on both sides with a liberal and well applied volume of duck tape.
Repaired and underway, we arrived in Cedar Bluff Alabama and discovered the Lighthouse Motel and Restaurant on the shore of Lake Weiss. For lunch I had the best fried chicken outside of my mama’s kitchen. It was amazing and our early arrival on a weekday gave us the whole place to ourselves.
The joy of these events is some may choose to partake in the drive; others just proceed from hotel to hotel, recovering from the previous night’s events and preparing for the coming evening. While various levels of competitiveness manifests itself among others. This day was a photo hunt; navigators were given snippets of pictures and needed to match the section with the whole picture of an actual roadside shot along the route.
As Ms. Mental and I accomplished this task along with our team, the van displayed new issue. White smoke began to emit from the pipe, in small amounts at first and then in “Spy Hunter” volumes by the time we rejoined the freeway.
20 miles from our hotel, the Lumina MPV died again. I kicked it into neutral and somehow managed to coast into a parking lot just off I-20 in Anniston. A few phones calls dispatched other participants to the Shoney’s parking lot, including Eric the mad genius.
The small collection of oddly decorated cars attracted the attention of two locals. The participants happily relayed the story of the rally, what we are doing and the fact that this van is dead. They immediately inquire as to the fate of the MPV. When I mentioned it is junkyard bound they ask what I want for it.
“A six pack of beer.” I reply.
That was the last straw. My wife elbowed me sharply in the ribs. As the fiscally responsible one, she has grown tired of useless automotive expenditures. After suffering across 6 states without AC, sitting on the side of the road and being sleep deprived, she will not allow me to toss more money down the drain. My laissez-faire attitude has to stop and now it’s time for business.
“A case of beer” she corrects.
They quickly return with 24 Dos XXs and we hand them a signed title.
At the hotel, the beer is consumed by the revelers in the parking lot as we shamelessly search for a ride to New Orleans. We have no idea how we will get back to Oklahoma either. We adopt a Scarlett O Hara attitude and take a long pull from the Dos XXs; “We’ll think about that tomorrow.”
After all, tomorrow is another day…
Don’t worry. They get to New Orleans…