Friday, January 04, 2008


So there we were, driving along the freeway, making our way back over the grapevine to drop Elizabeth off at the airport (she was flying out of Orange County). She had come down to California to spend Christmas with my family (and me, incidentally), but she had to work on the 26th. I was driving my sister Sarah's car, Elizabeth was riding shotgun, and Sarah was in the back seat with my 93-year-old grandma, whose name is also Elizabeth, and who also happens to be globe-trotting a nurse. We were on the 14 freeway, driving through Acton, when we hear a belt noise coming from the engine. I say 'hear'; we all heard it, but Elizabeth was the one who identified it as a belt noise. She instructed me to pop the car into neutral, and when I did, the noise stopped: crisis averted. Or not. I re-engaged the engine, and all seemed well, but I heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like something leaving the car. Instantly, I lost power steering, the battery light went on, and so did the engine light. This was definitely not good. We called my dad, who told us it was probably the serpentine belt, and that we should get off the freeway and to a service station. It was Christmas, though, would they even be open? We had no choice. Elizabeth, who was the one on the phone, indicated that Sand Canyon Road was a place that my dad had indicated that it would be good to get off, and as we were about to pass it, I swerved onto the exit, and drove into town. There were two gas stations readily visible, and the 76 had a garage, so that's where we headed. We pulled up, and with some effort, were able to park the car (power steering was out, if you recall), and to our surprise, there was a mechanic walking by. We flagged him down and explained our situation. He was just getting off shift, but we popped the hood, and he took a look, then explained to us that indeed our serpentine belt was shredded, and its tensioner was also damaged in such a way that it would need to be replaced; the tensioner was not easy to get to either. The mechanic told us that we could leave the keys with the attendant, and have the car repaired in the morning, which seemed like our best option, until my grandma piped up from the back seat, and told us that she had 100 miles of towing from AAA. 100 miles was certainly enough, but the immediate problem was that Elizabeth needed to be at the airport in a couple of hours, and we were still about 70 miles away. My parents and my brother Josh, meanwhile, left from Tehachapi in order to get us a car so that Elizabeth could make her flight. Fortunately, the flight was delayed. While we waited for the tow truck and my parents, we sat in the car together, ate sandwiches, and talked. It was actually quite an enjoyable time. My parents and brother arrived a few minutes before the tow truck, which was about an hour after we had stopped. It was decided that Sarah would take Elizabeth in my mom's car, my grandma would go back to Tehachapi with my parents and Josh, and I would stay with the car and ride in the tow truck. Elizabeth made her flight, but barely. Sarah and I actually arrived at the towing destination within about a minute of each other. The driver had taken the longer route of the 210 to the 57, avoiding the 5 freeway through Los Angeles, while Sarah had driven straight down the 5. Traffic was light, however, and they made good time. Elizabeth made it to the airport just on time, but she had to carry on her bag, which meant she had to leave all the liquids in her bag behind. The Lord is merciful.


  1. No mercy for the serpentine belt though.
    Love the "motor-peril" label. Let's hope you don't have to use it very often. =)

    GARGH I'm so irritated that I can't plug in my URL anymore. *kicks Blogger/Google.*

    beck of

  2. Oooooooh MORTAL-peril. Motor... mortal... same thing.
    My mind takes interesting short cuts after a 12-hour work day.

  3. Yuck, what a mess. I'm glad that everything worked out okay, though!