Travel isn’t without risks. But few things are. If you aren’t willing to take risks then you’ll never (enter any word you like here, such as start a business, see interesting places, love, eat, laugh and learn).
Our trip hit a bit of a snag yesterday when we were about 10 miles onto the Will Rogers turnpike/toll road and we started to smell burning rubber. A few minutes later I noticed the battery light was on and our van started to overheat. The bad thing about toll roads is that they don’t have a lot of exits and we were suddenly in dire need of an exit. We were forced to stop alongside the freeway when the overheating alarm rang. Two stops and a gallon of water later we limped off the toll road and into Fairland, Oklahoma.
Our problem was easy to see – we had snapped the serpentine belt. It was curled up in the bottom of the engine compartment, warped, burned, and broken. That belt runs just about everything: the water pump (no water pump = no cooling, no cooling = overheating), alternator (no alternator = no charge, no charge = van freaks out and all the lights flash until it just dies, which it did twice), and power steering (which means strong arm steering).
As we limped into Fairland we were able, with the help of the local welder, to get to one of the town’s two mechanics. Our mechanic looked at the problem, ordered the belt and said “Looks like the bearing on the belt tensioner seized up and that broke your belt. I can have a new belt by tomorrow but the pulley and tensioner have to be ordered through VW and the dealer in Tulsa doesn’t have one.”
Our mechanic, Alan Sloan of Affordable Auto & Diesel Repair, offered to take us to the Route 66 Motel in Afton, Oklahoma – the only hotel around. We were happy to accept his offer. It’s a bit desolate out here; we are the only guests at the motel and we’ve visited everything else nearby: we’ve had lunch at the “Café,” visited the truck stop, taken a walk along a farm road and the train tracks, and talked to some buffaloes.
As I sit here writing this, we are still waiting on the part from VW to be delivered to our mechanic in Fairland. We were supposed to be in Tucson by Friday. We’ve got 1200 miles still to go and about 20 hours of driving yet to do. I think we’ll be a bit late.
Tomorrow, if everything goes to plan, we’ll be back on the road and we’ll add Fairland, Oklahoma to El Paso, Texas and Garberville, California – the list of places we’ve been unexpectedly waylaid by mechanical mishaps. Travel isn’t without risks.