A new belt.

I’d like to thank everyone who has commented on this blog.  Your encouragement gives me resolve in those moments when Fiona is misbehaving and I think to myself that I can’t spend another minute in the midst of this mechanical uncertainty!  I get a comment from one of you, I take a deep breath, and I return to living in each moment as it comes.  So, thanks. 

Today we spent all day with the mechanic in Hillsborough, New Brunswick, Canada, a town just up the road from Hopewell Cape. It was a day of mixed blessings. For example, I fully expected to have to wait for the part, Fiona’s new alternator belt, but they had it in stock. The work got done in about the amount of time I anticipated, knowing as I did that they’d have to remove the other belts to get to where they could put this one on. The manager at CarQuest, Brian, was very helpful and had already gone above and beyond the call of duty to help me out when the “mixed” part of this blessing began. With the new belt in place, and the engine coolant topped off, we backed Fiona out of the garage to be happily on our way, when great gobs of oil began spilling out of her and onto the pavement beneath us. We immediately pulled back into the garage, and opened the “dog cage” as the engine cover is called and saw Fiona’s lovely engine coated in dark grease – the oil that keeps all the moving parts moving smoothly. Lord, but it was a lot of oil!   There was so much of it, in fact, that they couldn’t tell where it started, and so couldn’t fix the leak without first washing the oil off.  After an hour or so of looking and looking, the leak finally showed itself. The part is called a “nipple” (go ahead, laugh, but you can really tell that mechanical professions are male when you get to know the part names), and it’s part of the oil pressure part that shows you what your oil pressure is. This part looks something like a screw (see what I mean) without a pointy end; and it was brass, which is a soft metal and not a good choice for this particular part. It was cracked across and could have bust at any time.

So, now it’s time for the blessing: if this part had bust on the road, I’d be off the road and in a plane on my way back to whence I came, sans a working motorhome. If this part had bust on the road, I would have dumped all the oil by the time I knew what was going on, and the engine would have seized, and needed to be entirely replaced, or rebuilt. Replacing or rebuilding an engine is thousands of dollars worth of work, and way past what I can afford to do. We walked into CarQuest at 10 am and walked out again at 6:30 pm, an hour past their normal closing time. Three men who work there stayed to see the job done; they charged me a reasonable rate; and set me up to have the generator looked at by a good generator mechanic in another part of New Brunswick. I’ve been extremely lucky in the mechanics I’ve met. They’ve been uniformly helpful, kind and competent. Despite my lack of knowledge, they’ve treated me well and given me information I needed to make good decisions. They’ve also been real gentlemen. My thanks to the men who’ve worked on my coach, and been fair with me. It means a lot, and there is surely a special place reserved for you in heaven.  There should be an awards dinner for fair mechanics thrown every year in Daytona Beach.

You would think that after the repairs I’ve needed recently, I’d be down tonight. I’m not. I’m concerned. I can’t keep putting money out on repairs like this. Surely, my dear Fiona, we could go for a few weeks before we need spend more time in a mechanic’s shop? Is this just part of the GMC experience? Will the repair debt continue mounting? Will my travels meet an untimely end? Who knows? I can’t predict any of it. In the meantime, let me tell you a bit more about beauty.  I may know little to nothin’ about a 455 Oldsmobile engine, but I know somethin’ about beauty.

Hillsborough has within it’s small borders much to admire and love. In addition to the fine men who worked on my Fiona, there’s a great little eatery where they make their own bread and serve home-style meals, and put their tea in tea pots. If you drink tea, you know how disappointing it is to order a cup of tea, and get a tea bag, plopped into water that’s been warmed in a coffee pot on the coffee pot warmer, in a mug that wouldn’t satisfy a little kid at a child’s tea party! Really, people. Put it in a pot and make the water hot. All the tea drinkers in the world will cry tears of joy over their pekoe leaves. But, we are in Hillsborough, where there are churches made of wood, with old stained glass windows, and carefully tended grave yards, the markings smoothed over by years of rain, snow, sun and time. There is one Victorian house after another, each more interesting and lovely than the last, each begging for your appreciation. All of this on a coastline that rivals any I have seen in my life, with weather that I could live under happily, because it changes every moment. The graveyard you just saw, backed by a river, is now gloomy, now comforting, now wet and stormy. You would never know, until being here, that brown came in so many shades, each one more resplendent and satisfying than the last and in the form of a river. Or that a sky can go from threatening to awakening in the flash of a camera. All this you see, and accompanying it, are roads that slope and sway, grass that dances, people who by and large seem happy, and then there are the Hopewell Rocks, mere minutes away. And I got all of this by taking the “scenic route,” in a 1977 GMC without an alternator belt.  When did you last take the scenic route, dear reader?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John C.
    Aug 11, 2010 @ 02:11:01

    Yesterday, actually. Driving home from visiting my Mom in Toledo, instead of taking the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes we (my sister, nephew and niece) drove took the backroads through central Ohio Amish country, then into West Virginia, Pennsylvania and far Western Maryland. Stopped for a picnic lunch and also for some homemade ice cream.

    I highly recommend an occasional digression.


  2. Sandy Black
    Aug 11, 2010 @ 15:20:12

    First of all, I have to commend you and your mother for taking on such an amazing adventure….It can be a little scary out there (especially in a 1977 RV) I am Brian’s wife and I have to thank you for writing your blogs and for showing us all the beauty that is out there if we just take a moment to look at it. I’ve forgotten just how beautiful it is here…as humans, we tend to take things for granted….but today and everyday to come, I will go out and look around me and breathe in all of it’s beauty….so thank you…
    Safe Travels and God Bless You♥


  3. Michelle
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 02:42:38

    My goodness. I almost feel so guilty about recommending Fiona but then again, no one, not even Bounds with his infinite stories of breakdowns could have forseen this. I AM glad you are in good spirits and finding beauty and tea. You need to be sponsored by the mechanics of Canada! The explorer does not get into this much trouble. Maybe we should’ve named her Tinkerbelle- the tinker fairies can fix and build anything.


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