Broken down in Oklahoma

Posted by on February 16, 2012

The only hotel close to.... Fairland and Afton and the cafe and the dollar general store and the truck stop.

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).

The view from the window.

Petra takes in the view.

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.”

We found a farm road to walk on - the sky was clear and the temperature was warm.

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.

From the road we found the tracks. From there we made our way past a couple barky farm dogs to our motel.

We ordered take out from the cafe. We are a long way from French lunches.

These trees along our walk offered a striking pose.

Despite being delayed the sun was warm.

6 Responses to Broken down in Oklahoma

  1. Lisa Secan

    And you thought Antarctica was at the end of the world! Oklahoma looks desolate, but at least you have your positive attitude:)
    Love you – safe travels once you get on the road again.
    Aunt Lisa

  2. deb

    oh beautiful back roads america. you thought you were leaving it only to be re united again. anyway, the sun is shining.!!!

  3. Kelly Paquette

    If you find yourselves stranded in NM, give us a shout out! Many adventures ahead…
    Happy Trails!
    Kelly P. (Erin’s sis)

  4. Emily

    You found beauty in some unlikely places. The photos are framed in a way that tells an excellent story. Train tracks, farmland, Styrofoam to-go containers with chili, chips, and grilled cheese (did i guess right?). And content smiles in front of a lonely hotel. Right on!

    • David Devere

      You are almost right – the Chili is really vegetable soup. So I ordered it for Sara, only to find out it was actually vegetable beef soup. The large beef chunk was at the bottom. Should have know.