"Was you ever bit by a dead bee?" redux

Slim: You have? Why don't you bite them back?
Eddie: That's what Harry always says. But I ain't got no stinger.
Let's go back in the Way Back Machine for a moment, all the way back to the early part of 2009 (I think - I'm getting old!), to when I met Doc's family for the first time.  We journey to the Bay Area for Doc's birthday, and I would be meeting not only his family, but most of his good friends.  I was anxious as to what they would think about me, this girl who stole their oldest son away to southern California.  I was dressed in a very cute short blue plaid skirt (this is important later).

Doc and I arrived at the Hayward BART station in the evening, met by two of his long-time friends Tim and Cat. Doc and I and all of our luggage piled into the back of their car.  About 2 or 3 minutes in to the drive, the back of my upper thigh began to sting and hurt.  I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to be that whiny, high-strung girlfriend.  It hurt more and more over the course of the short ride to his parents house.  By the time we stopped I was in such pain that I had to run into the house, bypassing greetings and pleasantries, and go straight to the bathroom to see what was going on.  Much to my chagrin, I was too short to see my legs in the bathroom mirror.  Embarrassed, I had to leave the bathroom, and ask Doc to follow me and inspect the area.  His mother was going to think I was crazy.

Come to find out, I had sat on a dead bee in the back of the car, and I somehow managed to get stung.  By a dead bee.

Fast forward to St. Louis, MO, 18 march 2012.  When we arrived, we were able to stop in on Doc's Great Uncle James.  James runs a NC-style bbq joint in the city.

 We had a lovely dinner, drank beer, and discussed business.  James is a wonderful man.  He kept trying to convince us to stay, and I intending on taking him up on that offer when we go back through.  We did avail ourselves of his shower, however.  In the guest bathroom, getting ready to shower, I stepped on something hard.  I pick my foot up, and what do I see?  A dead bee.  Sigh.

Abilene KS

In the middle of all the car troubles we were making some, albeit slow, headway east.  For one of our numerous stops we decided to go to Abilene KS to the the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.  As is usual for a Holliday, instead of getting there at 2 like we wanted, we arrived at 4:30.  The library and museum close at 4:45. Luckily the grounds were open later, so we wandered a bit.

I love President Eisenhower for many reasons, not the least of which is creating the interstate highway system.  During this same part of the trip we drove the first 8 miles of the first highway.  Almost brings tears to my eyes.

All about Ike

Eisenhower's boyhood home

Gratuitous artsy photo #2 - cool tree edition

My favourite

This is for Amanda - on the way out of town we happened across this awesome place

Colorado and Kansas - car woes

We got on our merry way in the late evening on the 15th.  A scant 40 miles outside of Denver all of my dread is realized.  A loud, clearly abnormal, thumping began emanating from the rear driver's side.  We pulled over to the side of the road, and Doc tried to check under the car to see if he could tell what was wrong, without getting run over by oncoming traffic.  Did I mention that Pearl doesn't have hazard lights?  Oh, the joys of old cars.

He couldn't determine what is wrong with the car, although he guess is either the brakes, or the wheel bearings.  The rim of the back tire was hot, and once that cooled down, the sound stopped.  That lasted for maybe a mile.  We pulled off the highway at the next exit, in Strasburg, CO.

We pulled in to the parking lot of a gas and tire store, and Doc spent an hour or so in the freezing wind trying to jack up the car high enough that he could see what was going on, to no avail.  I convinced Doc that the best thing to do was get some sleep, and wake up when the store opened to see if they would jack it up for us, and continue from there.  
Our first sleeping spot
Once day broke we spoke to the owner of the store, who directed us to the mechanic just down the way - John's Repair.  They didn't have space for us until noon, so we spent the morning wandering Strasburg.
Decent breakfast place

Strasburg is a cute little town. Small of course, but I liked it.  Everyone was very kind and outgoing.

When we finally got the car up and looked at, we found out that it was really both things that Doc has supposed.  The wheel bearing had gone out, and the resulting pressure broke half of the brake shoe off, and was rubbing on the brake drum.  Incredibly, the drum was not damaged, so all we needed to do was replace the wheel bearing, and brake shoe, and lube the car.  I was so thankful.  By happenstance, JD and John, the two mechanics, were comfortable with old cars like Pearl, and were very good at their jobs - serendipitous occurrence #2.

Parts were ordered in from Denver, and we got on our way about 4pm, with a somewhat significant dent in our already small bank account, having lost about a day in our, what apparently was to become a race, to NYC to make it to the opera.

Gratuitous artsy photo
We get on the road, and drive

We finally get in to Kansas the next evening.  It was at this point that the shift linkage went.  The impetus of this mechanical failure was yours truly, although we then discovered that due to the poor way the linkage was put together after changing transmissions, it would have happened at any time.

2 hours in the dark Doc spent on the car.  About 15 minutes fixing the bend I caused, and the rest of the time trying to make the shift linkage stay in its proper position, as it has previously been held in my just a wire.

Nothing was working until Doc used vice grips to hold it in, and drive the 60 miles to civilization.  Over the course of the next day or so, he would use various pins to hold the linkage together, which would hold for about 50-100 miles before needed to be replaced.  

It wasn't until Dayton, Ohio that he was able to fashion a better solution that would hold for more than a tank of gas.  

And we had lost 2.5 days to delays.

Preparations, with pics

We spent a while (although probably not enough time)preparing Pearl for her journey.  She lived at Tom's how for a couple of weeks while problems with the trans and electrical system were taken care of.  That and we had to remove the old transmission that had been hanging out in her trunk for about 6 months.
Pearl, getting ready for her journey

A 1959 Edsel Ranger 4-door, Pearl had 10,151 miles on her when we left Denver.  We purchased Pearl in January of 2010, just after moving to Denver.  She had about 7000 miles on her.  Ever.  Yes, this car is all original (can't you tell?) and has only ever been driven around town.  Edsel is a name that is synonymous with "failure."  It was one of the first big failures of the auto industry, and especially for Ford.  They were made for 3 years, 1958, 1959, and 1960.  The 1958 is the most iconic, as it has the larger, more prominent "horse collar" grill.  We have one of only 14,063 1959 Edsel Rangers 4dr sedans made.
 The paint job has faded, and the interior is a mess, but over all she is in amazing condition.
 We said good-bye to everyone in Denver over the span of a couple of days, culminating with Thursday, March 15th.  We had opera tickets at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City for the 20th, and 5 days should be plenty of time to get there.  Oh silly us.

Bye lovely Crickett

Our final meal in Denver, with Cathy and Holly
We had a last meal in Denver with the lovely Holly and Cathy, and then finished the final touches as got going after dark.

The journey begins

I have never felt as much anxiety and unadulterated terror as I have these past 15 days. Every hour brought a roller coaster of excitement and fear. Strangely, although not sadly, my last days in Denver were spent awash in a wave of utter apathy.

We got under way about 9 o'clock. The actual departure time itself seemed unremarkable. The nausea hit almost immediately. The 70 stretched before me.