To me, machinery is a lot like at-home hair bleaching. I have an idea of the basics, but most of it is beyond me and it would be downright dangerous if I tried to do it myself. When Parker explained that our battery had been acting up before we left Oregon, I grimaced and hoped he would take care of it. In the midst of everything that was happening, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what that meant. Luckily, the truck started right up after a jump. Figuring that it was simply leaving the doors open or the lights on too long, we chalked it up to ‘no big deal’ and went on.
On the way from Oregon to California, we camped along the way and didn’t experience any problems with the battery. We were really breaking the trailer in for the first time; learning to live in it and trying things out. This would have been a likely time for us to accidentally drain the battery, leave something on, or blow a fuse. But somehow, it was smooth sailing!
After we settled in Winters and drove around for a week or so, we woke up to a dead battery. Luckily, AAA has been one of my parents’ greatest gifts to me, and they were able to send Winters Tow to come jump us. Francis (a cancer survivor who moved to Winters after taking a job as a land caretaker and falling in love with the area within three days) told us to pour some baking soda and water on our corroded battery, and warned that if we didn’t (and even if we did), our battery likely wouldn’t last long. Alas, he was correct. After a few more jumps (a couple in the middle of the road in downtown Winters – a one road town where we caused quite the traffic jam) and a trip to the Autozone in the nearby town of Vacaville, we got a new battery and were feeling a little better about our sorry state. Imagine our surprise when our truck was dead the very next day, regardless of our brand new battery!
At this point, I’m thinking that basically our lives are over and we’re never going to be able to get anywhere again. The sun was shining down on us oppressively, the flies were buzzing, it was grim. We were jumped by our wonderful landlord, and again drove to Autozone. Our new battery was completely dead, and then when we put in a replacement, the charge immediately fell to 50%. Spirits were low. Our truck was sucking the life out of these batteries. Or, in more practical terms: there was a draw on the power. Either way, the problem seemed insurmountable. Luckily, Parker has a much better attitude and a lot more knowledge. After spending a few more hours at the Autozone, driving to another town to try and find an open mechanic on a Sunday (there were none), calling Parker’s good friend Joel (who happens to be a helicopter mechanic and former bio-diesel VW Rabbit owner), and finding another auto parts shop (leaving the truck running the entire time for fear of it never turning back on), Parker thought he’d try replacing the starter relay solenoid. For me, this is when the bleach would begin burning my scalp. I’d probably get it in my eyes.
And so we bravely drove home. It was hot and we were dirty and tired and had spent our first day ‘off’ in the Autozone parking lot and driving back and forth on California highways. Poor Parker didn’t get to watch the football games he had been looking forward to all week, but was somehow still determined to give it one more shot with the solenoid. We got home and he quickly went to work. After an hour or so, we gave it a shot – and the sweet sweet sound of our 7.3 liter engine coming to life was music to our ears!
That’s one good-lookin’ grease monkey!
We started the truck a couple more times, and then decided to venture into town for wifi and the tail end of the Packers game. So here I am, sitting at Preserve, writing to you, and hoping that when we go back out to the truck, we won’t be back at square one. Totally bald.
Wish us luck!