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04/06/08 21:00:04 - Why We Don't Get Out Much

We’ve decided that we’re never driving to Phoenix again. Ever. Because Phoenix is cursed. Let’s review my family’s luck in trips up there:
July 2007. My graduation ceremony is held there. We plan on taking the nicer of our two cars, but were unable to get the oil changed in time. So, we take the little car. On the freeway heading back to Mesa to pick up the kids so we can go home, violent shaking in the car makes us think that our tire might be low. When we pull into a gas station and try to re-inflate it, it explodes. We have to buy new tires before we can go anywhere.

November 2007. We are driving to Mesa for Thanksgiving. Once again, we expect to take the good car. This time, on our way out of town, we stop at a gas station to check the air pressure and make sure everything is where it should be. It wasn’t. One of our tires had gone from 32 p.s.i. to 10 in less than 24 hours. Not wanting to repeat July’s adventure (except maybe in the middle of the desert), we decide to go home and bring the other car. No more than 30 minutes after our departure, our car is totaled.

December 2007. We arrive in Phoenix unscathed, but that’s only because it wasn’t our destination, just a layover so we could fly to Salt Lake City for less.

March 2008. Katharine (MB’s sister) had a baby, and MB was driving up to visit her. MB wanted to take the old car (a ’97 Corolla borrowed from her sister), but our mechanic recommended that we get new tires. So, she decided to take the Mazda instead, leaving me with the kids for the night.

About 45 minutes after she left, I got a phone call from her. “Does the CD player run off the battery?”

“Ummm… I think it’s really powered by the alternator when you’re driving. Why do you ask?”

“Well, it just stopped working”

“That’s weird. Do your lights work?”

“I don’t know. I can’t see them”

“Well, turn them on and see if your dashboard lights get dimmer. If they do…”

“I gotta go. I’M STOPPING!” Click.

About two minutes later, she called me back and told me that the car had died so suddenly that she couldn’t get over to the right lane (there are only two on the freeway there). She had to pull into the median, but she couldn’t even get all the way off the road – her passenger-side mirror was actually in the roadway, she thought. “Every time a car passes, I feel the entire car shake”. To make matters worse, the battery was so dead that the hazard lights wouldn’t come on.

So, I left to pick her up. The tow truck arrived and carried the car to a dealership about halfway between Sierra Vista and Tucson

In the end, it turned out that our alternator was overheating. Once it reached a certain point, it would die altogether, leaving the battery to power everything from the spark plugs to the CD player. Not so good.

But now, $400 later, our car works just fine. And it probably will stay that way, at least until we decide to drive to Phoenix. So, if you live there and you want to see us, either come down here to visit, or have a tow truck on your speed dial.

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