Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Memorable Weekend

Posted by: Rick

Last weekend was a memorable one. Mainly because I travelled to New Mexico to attend my father's memorial service. But, it was memorable for other reasons, too. So, let me walk you through the weekend.

I had a 3:30-ish flight from Denver to Albuquerque on Friday. It is about a 3 hour drive to the airport from the cabin if I take County Rd 80C. That road is 37 miles of dirt road, the first half of which is pretty bad with ruts and washboard. The latter half is well graded and even treated with something that makes it almost like a paved road. I took the Suburban and we bounced down the mountain, joined Highway 287, popped over to I-25 at Owl Canyon Rd, and then took I-25 and later E-470 to the airport. I drove into the economy parking lot on the east side and went up and down several aisles to find an open parking spot. Just as I spied one and aimed for it, the truck went "putt putter putt putt, wank, wank, poof", lost all power and died. I coasted into the parking spot. Clearly, something is terribly wrong and I suspected something fuel system related. But, I had a plane to catch so I took a photo of my location (to remind me where I parked), and headed to the airport.

I guess I should even go back to Thursday. Lynne and I drove into town so I could riffle through boxes of clothes. Turns out I had nothing at the cabin appropriate for a memorial service. Really all I have are jeans, most of which are pretty worn, t-shirts and work shirts. I found a pair of black slacks and a couple of nice shirts--casual, but okay for a memorial service in a town that will see 103 degrees during the day. I forgot to grab a small suitcase, but luckily, I was able to cram those clothes along with several changes of underwear into my backpack.

The only semi-appropriate shoes I have are some black leather Sketcher slip-ons. They were really dirty with dust and mud, so I had them polished at the airport. They came out looking pretty good, so I felt prepared for the weekend. Well, I still needed to decide what to say at the service as I was to give the "Family Memories" speech.

I arrived in Albuquerque (do you mind if I just write ABQ from now on?) and my cousin Debra picked me up at the airport. We immediately headed for Las Cruces, which is about 210 miles south and the city where the memorial was to be held. We got into Las Cruces about 9:00. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to bed.

The memorial was the next day at a Baptist church in Las Cruces. There was a nice group of family there, and a lot of people from the community and parents' church attended. 

A nice photo of family. Notice I don't have any glasses on. Yup, lost them a few days earlier.

My brother made up a nice memorial board for the service.

When I got a chance to talk, I addressed five topics.

1. Dad as a provider. He adopted us kids and took great care of us. We had a lot of fun growing up. Weekends at the lake, vacations at a beach somewhere, often in Mexico. Hunting, fishing. He worked hard to provide us with a carefree childhood.

2. Dad as a teacher. He taught me how to drive a boat, run a trot line, waterski; how to work on my car; keep my tools clean and organized; how to assemble a fishing rod by wiping a bit of sweat of the side of my nose and using it to lubricate the joints; "righty tighty, lefty loosey"; even some old Navy ditties like the one that starts "She has freckles on her but(t) she's nice".

3. Dad as a learner. He had an intense curiosity. I remember driving through the Black Forest of Germany one time when he visited us there. As we drove along taking in the beautiful views, he asked the question: "Son, where do you recon they got those mud flaps?" referring to same on a truck that just passed us. He noticed and questioned things that passed the rest of us by. And, later in life, even as he was losing his sight and hearing, he took up guitar lessons and learned to play Native American flutes.

4. Dad as a people person. He could strike up a conversation with anyone. And, he had this uncanny ability to discover relationships with everyone. Throughout out life, he'd meet and start a conversation with total strangers, and then find some linkage back to a family member or friend. I remember one time, again when visiting us in Europe, we were driving over a pass in the Swiss Alps. Dad needed to find a restroom and we pulled over at a guest house with a bar and restaurant at the top of a pass above timberline. After 15 or 20 minutes, he had still not come back out to the car. I went in search of him and found him at the bar talking with a man who knew a guy that managed a gas station in Artesia, NM (where I grew up).

5. Dad as a story teller. Dad liked to talk. And, he had a perfect memory, even of events from 90 years ago. He loved to talk about his childhood on the family farm in Oklahoma; about his first horse; about the weather there; the workings of the farm; family stories; etc. One thing he never talked about was his Navy service. He joined the Navy right out of high school at the beginning of World War II. Actually the theme of Dad as a story teller came up over and again in people's memories of him.

It was actually a joyful celebration of his life and chance to reconnect to family. 

We drove back to ABQ on Saturday afternoon. And, I spent all day Sunday with my Mom. She has moved into a new adult community apartment there. She needed some help unpacking things, moving a few items to storage for a future garage sale, hanging her cuckoo clock, etc. We ate a few great meals together. And, went to see The Secret Life of Pets with my sister. This was all meant to be a surrogate birthday celebration for her. She'll turn 80 in early August and I won't be able to make it back down for that big day.

Of course, all weekend I was thinking about what to do with the truck when I got back to Denver. My sister has worked at GM dealerships managing service departments and inventory for over 30 years. She knows a lot about cars, and especially Chevy's. She suggested several possible problems, one of which was "vapor lock". I did not realize that a car without a carburator could have vapor lock, but she said it could be the problem.

I figured there were three possible alternatives:

Worst case: The truck won't start, I have to call Good Sam's Roadside Service, tow the truck to a service garage, find out that it is really bad and I'll need to leave the truck for several days. In that case, I'd rent a car and go home coming back in several days to get the truck.

Medium case: Same as above, but they can fix the truck within a few hours. This would allow me to drive the truck home that day, only later than I expected. And, that I may or may not be able to pick up the RV washing machine I'd ordered for the cabin.

Best case: The truck starts and acts as if nothing ever happened and all my weekend anxiety was for nothing.

Guess what? It started right up! Per my sister's instructions, I drove to the nearest gas station and put high octane gas in it. I also put in a fuel injector cleaner additive she recommended.

I was able to pick up the washing machine as planned. The whole process was a bit more time consuming and complicated than I had hoped, but I won't go into all that here. The main point is that we now have a washing machine sitting in a utility closet of the cabin awaiting a plumber (next Tuesday, oh please, oh please). Now that makes this a truly memorable weekend!

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