Merrily We Roll Along, part two
Thomas A. Droleskey
The penance we experienced when we left Kingman, Arizona, in our motor home on Saturday, January 28, 2006, cannot be described adequately by means of the written word. Although we have driven in the motor home without heat in bitterly cold weather and had to drive without a functioning exhaust system for three hours on a hot, humid day in northeastern Texas on July 9, 2005, among other little inconveniences since we purchased the vehicle at the now defunct Travel Land R. V dealership on Menaul Boulevard in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on July 12, 2001, nothing compares to the sheer horror of having to drive the motor home on nine, instead of ten, cylinders as it make an infernal racket and shook the entire coach violently. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Sharon came up with the idea of putting cotton in our ears after we had driven about sixty miles west of Kingman into California on Interstate 40 through Mojave Desert. Even poor Lucy had to have cotton put into her ears. We had the additional worry of the exhaust pipe, which I had asked the clowns in Kingman to fix, coming off as it was bending more and more to the ground with each passing mile. Thus, we continued to drive and drive and drive the 125 miles between the Arizona-California border and Barstow, California, where it was my intention to detach the Trail Blazer from the motor home so as to give Sharon and Lucy some relief from the noise and from the fumes being generated into the coach, which Sharon could smell but I, lacking a sense of smell, could not. That would have been the completely prudent thing to have done.
When we got to Barstow, however, around 5:00 p.m., we had to turn onto California 58 to continue westward through the Mojave Desert and then up to the top of the Tehachapi Summit. There was no good place to stop. Thus, I told Sharon to take Lucy Mary Norma into the rear of the motor home, where the two of them might be able to take a good nap and be further removed from the noise and the fumes. There was a gasoline station or two west of Barstow that I could have stopped at to detach the two vehicles from each other. Intent on making up for lost time, recognizing that we were not likely to get into Maple Leaf R.V. Park in Morgan Hill, California, south of San Jose, until around 11:00 p.m., I just kept going and going and going.
Sharon did get Lucy to sleep as we continued to drive, giving me extra incentive to keep going so as to avoid having to wake up our daughter. Lucy continued to sleep was climbed with great difficulty up the Tehachapi Summit, doing as little as twenty miles per hour at some points as all manner of vehicles passed us. The motor home's engine, a Ford V-10 Triton, just could not make the grades well with the loss of a cylinder and with the towing of the car, which was loaded down with boxes of G.I.R.M. Warfare and Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations, one of the reasons that I had thought about detaching the vehicles. We lost a lot of time with the reduction in speed caused by the loss of the cylinder. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
The motor home was in need of gasoline by the time we reached the top of the Tehachapi Summit at around 6:15 p.m. on January 28, 2006. Having reached the summit successfully, I thought that the rest of the trip would be without any further problems, especially since the topography was pretty flat from thereon out until we had to go through the Pacheco Pass Road that takes one from Interstate 5 to U.S. 101 in Gilroy, California. There was the little detail of going down from the Tehachapi Summit that did not seem to faze me in the slightest. It should have. A lot.
I was driving the motor home down from the Tehachapi Summit when I saw on our rear-view monitor sparks emanating from the rear of vehicle.
"Oh, no. The towbar's come apart," I said to myself.
Yes, the right pin that held the towbar to the Trail Blazer had been pulled out. The Trail Blazer crashed into the back of the motor home as I pulled off to the shoulder of California 58. I had to get out to inspect the damage and to see if the Trail Blazer was still drivable. Would we have to leave the Trail Blazer in Tehachapi?
Sharon come out from the bedroom just as I was going out of the main coach door.
"Yes, I know," I said to her. "I should have detached. I know. Let me look at the damage."
The towbar was undamaged, although the base plate on the Trail Blazer that held the towbar to its chassis would have to be replaced. The Trail Blazer's bumper had come off partially on the right side yet again. The motor home, amazingly, received a few scratches on its rear bumper but was in good shape otherwise. The left pin that held the towbar to the Trail Blazer was jammed, however. It would not budge at all, a little problem that had to be dealt with before Sharon and Lucy could drive in it for the rest of the trip to Morgan Hill. The thought of calling for a tow truck to assist me with that detail occurred to me. I wanted to try to get it loose on my own before I did that. We had had enough delays.
I went back inside of the motor home to get a hammer to try to un-jam the pin from the base plate of the Trail Blazer. I told Sharon as I shook my head at my old stupidity for not detaching the two vehicles, "All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls."
A California State Highway Patrol (CHP) officer was approach the main coach door to the motor home as I exited. He told me to get into the Trail Blazer as he attempted to pry the pin out of the base plate. Following his instructions, I took the car out of neutral (a process so complex that I will not even attempt to describe it) and gently drove the car back and forth until the pin came lose. It was then time to remove the towbar itself from the "receiver" on the motor home in order to place it in the back of the Trail Blazer. I thanked the officer for his help, explaining to him that the Blessed Mother had sent him to us.
Sharon gathered up Lucy and gladly--and the word is gladly--exited the motor home to drive the Trail Blazer. She was thankful to be away from the infernal noise and the fumes.
"Ta-ta, Dada," Sharon said a little tearfully as she left with Lucy to get into the Trail Blazer.
We proceeded to drive in tandem once again. Only a few minutes had passed until I had gotten a call from Sharon, telling me that the rubber bumper guard, which I thought I had fixed so that it would not drag on the ground, was dragging on the ground. We had to stop our respective vehicles so that I could apply brute force (not) to yank the thing off and to put in the back of the Trail Blazer with the towbar and other assorted items.
All sorts of thoughts crossed my mind as we drove to Bakersfield, where we stopped to get Lucy some Chicken McNuggets. Should we try again to sell the Trail Blazer? I didn't want to see Sharon have to drive all the way back to Wisconsin from California in the Trail Blazer. Could we get the base plate replaced? Would we have enough money to do so after getting the motor home's engine fixed, if we could get it fixed, that is? Sharon expressed her view that we should keep the Trail Blazer, that it would cost too much money to rent cars and that the van was not a reliable vehicle, which is why we had gone back to New York at the beginning of that month. Indeed.
Thus, we continued on and on and on, my ears hurting more and more as the hours passed. We arrived at the Maple Leaf R. V. Park in Morgan Hill, California, some 565 miles from Kingman, Arizona, at about 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, 2006. Lucy had fallen asleep in the car, as she did when Sharon drove the car from west of Amarillo, Texas, to Vega, Texas, four very long nights before. I had to fill up our water tank, which is designed in such a way as to spill out water as we drive (a man on Long Island who repairs Forest River motor homes at Tag Motors in Medford told me a few days later, "These things are designed by people who do not use them"), dump our holding tanks, attach our electrical cord and then level the motor home so that it did not move from side to side as we were parked.
The jacks that level the motor home work on a hydraulic system, as so the "slides" in the living room and the bedroom that provide us between eighteen inches and two feet more of living space in each room once they are slid out. Those of you who are aficionados of these travelogues will remember that that slides failed to retract when we were in San Antonio, Texas, on the evening of September 7, 2001. Well, they failed to slide out when I pushed the button, located over the driver's door, for them to do so. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Actually, Sharon had some difficulty getting the slides to retract before we had left Albuquerque some thirty-eight hours before. That was their last gasp until Mr. Sean Kirby of Kirby's Mobil R.V. Repair installed a fuse relay box that had rotted out as a result of the poor designing that place it right next to two acid batteries that powers the coach's electricity. The fuse relay box had become corroded as a result of the acid from the batteries, to say nothing of the dirt and water and grime and snow and salt that was kicked from the roadway. No protective covering kept the elements from battering the relay box.
It was close to 1:30 a.m., Pacific time, before I got to sleep, having to arise some six hours later to get ready to assist at Holy Mass at Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Retreat House in Los Gatos, about thirty miles from Morgan Hill, and thence to give my "Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations" lecture.
Father Jacques Emily, the prior of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Retreat House, is a wonderful priest. He offers the Mass of the ages exquisitely. It was our privilege to have met him and to have Masses with him for four straight days (Sunday, January 29, 2006, through Wednesday, February 1, 2006). He was most gracious and kind to us. Although he had encouraged the faithful to stay after the High Mass to listen to my lecture, only about thirty or so people did, including a variety of people we had known from my earlier talks in the San Francisco-Santa Clara Area over the years. I had hoped that many more people of the several hundred people who assisted at Mass that day would stay. However, that was not within the Providence of God. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls. The souls who stayed were the ones that God had known from all eternity would stay.
We visited with a number of people after the talk, which got over around 4:00 p.m., as I packed up our unsold books. (Lucy had played with Sharon on the vast expanse of the retreat house's grounds, located in the beautiful hills of Los Gatos.) One gentleman, a Mr. Gino, had heard me discuss the problems with our motor home, telling me that he could help us possibly. He was intrigued that Lucy was praying at a photograph of the incorrupt body of Saint Bernadette, saying that he had a deep devotion to the seer of Massabielle as well. It was Saint Bernadette, we are convinced, who sent Mr. Gino to us. Mr. Gino, who hailed from Utah originally, said that he would stay overnight at the retreat house and then follow us down to Morgan Hill the next morning so that we could purchase the parts that he deemed necessary to repair the cylinder that had gone bad. We were very grateful for Mr. Gino's offer of assistance, which turned out to be invaluable.
Exhausted from our travels and all of the difficulties we had encountered, we headed back to our motor home after I packed up the books, getting a bit more sleep than we had the night before. Indeed, I believe I was unconscious within moments of getting into bed. All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
We assisted at 8:00 a.m. Holy Mass the next morning, January 30, at Saint Aloysius. Father Emily promised to take us out to breakfast the next day, January 31. He had to visit with friends of his from Montreal that morning who had just been on retreat with him. We caught up with Mr. Gino again to lead him down to Morgan Hill. He drove a old, old car, which needed a jump start to get it started. It was clear that Mr. Gino was living a life of true Holy Poverty as he sanctified his soul by living not too far from where the Mass of Tradition is offered. We treated him to breakfast in Morgan Hill before he took an initial look at the cylinder to see what needed to be done.
We had paid for a helio-coil to rethread the bad cylinder at the place in Kingman that wanted to rebuild the engine head. The nice people there did not give us the part that we paid for, necessitating me to place a phone call to demand that we be refunded part of the $292 we had spent there two days before. Lacking that part, though, which Mr. Gino thought would work, we had to go to an auto parts store in Morgan Hill to get the exact item that I had purchased--but not been given--in Kingman. As it turned out, though, Mr. Gino had no more success with that helio-coil than the man in Kingman. The mechanic we trusted in Orange, California, could not recommend anything other than taking out the engine head itself. Not helpful. Once again, therefore, I turned to the ever-helpful Mr. Chris Lexow in Silver Cliff, Wisconsin, to see what he would recommend.
The conscientious Mr. Lexow was on the ball. He was doing his due diligence far and beyond the call of duty. Chris had discovered that the Ford Motor Company had recognized that there was a problem with spark plugs going bad in their V-10 Triton engines. Ford had even gone so far as to manufacture a special repair kit to be used to rethread its V-10 Triton engine cylinders without removing the engine head. Chris had found a engine rebuilding company in Green Bay that was willing to rent this kit, charging it to his account, and then to ship it to me in California via next day air delivery. Perhaps this would work, we hoped and prayed. This would necessitate Mr. Gino's having to drive back to Morgan Hill from where he lived in Carmel, California, a distance of about sixty miles, the next day, Tuesday, January 31, 2006. He said that he was willing to do so. We compensated him for his time and expenses, thanking him profusely for his willingness to be of assistance to us. We wanted to get the the cylinder fixed before leaving for Kingsburg, California, on Wednesday, February 1, 2006, for the talk I was given that evening at Monsignor Raymond Ruscitto's chapel.
The rest of that day, January 30, was spent in getting out our annual tax receipts to those of you who donated so generously to Christ or Chaos, Inc., during calendar year 2005. That was an enormous process, which was not complete until I got out the last set of receipts around 11:00 p.m. that night. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Father Emily took us out to breakfast at Baker's Square in Los Gatos, where each of us had to offer up the horrible service that was given to us there. It was delightful to visit with him. As we know people in Post Falls, where he had served as the prior at Immaculate Conception Church, I told him that he is very much missed by his former parishioners. He was gratified to hear that this was the case. Lucy, though, had become sick again and had to be taken by her mother to the "facilities" now and again during the breakfast.
The promised tool kit to fix the motor home's bad cylinder was supposed to show up by 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 31, 2006. I kept calling the Maple Leaf R. V. Park to find out if the United Parcel Service had delivered the package. Mr. Gino was to call me by 11:00 a.m. to find out if he was to make the trip up to Morgan Hill from Carmel. UPS had not shown up by 10:30 a.m. that day. UPS had not shown up by 11:00 a.m. that day. UPS had not shown up prior to Mr. Gino's calling me around 11:10 a.m. that day. Thus, I told Mr. Gino to stay put and to check back in about an hour or so. He had no home phone or cellular phone. He had to call me from a pay phone by using a calling card.
It was not until we had arrived in San Francisco, which is one of Lucy's favorite cities, shortly after 12:15 p.m. that a phone call I placed to the campground revealed that the package had been delivered. Mr. Gino called, and I told him that he could drive up and start the repairs, having authorized him to pick up the package in the office of the campground in Morgan Hill.
Our visit to San Francisco was very short. Lucy was so sick. She even apologized to Sharon, saying, "Oh, Mama. Please forgive me, Mama, for being so sick." She is such a sweet girl. She enjoyed her ride at the Zeum Carousel near the Moscone Center and our brief visit to watch the sea lions at Pier 39. We took her back to Morgan Hill immediately after our brief visit to Pier 39. She fell asleep in the car on the seventy-mile drive back down U.S. 101. She had awakened by the time we returned to the motor home, where Mr. Gino was busy at work finishing up the the re-threading of the cylinder. He had about ninety minutes more of work to do by the time he was finished.
The time came for the acid test: would the engine start and NOT make that infernal sound again? Mr. Gino, thanks to be to his (and our) beloved Saint Bernadette, had done his job exquisitely. We were very much in his debt. He saved us thousands of dollars and the further inconvenience of driving with the infernal sound and the fumes. I know that you don't have access to computers, Mr. Gino. Maybe someone who does have access and reads this site can print this up for you the next time they see you at Saint Aloysius Retreat House. You are in our prayers every day. Thank you for being of such assistance to us!
Well, we went to Saint Aloysius for Mass one last time on February 1, 2006, saying goodbye to Father Emily and a few of our friends there. We had to return to Morgan Hill to ship the tool kit back to the company in Green Bay and thence to get back on the road, driving in tandem once again as our base plate problem had yet to be resolved, for the 150 trip to Kingsburg, California. We had a pleasant visit with Monsignor Ruscitto after my lecture in his chapel, and left the next morning for our next-to-last in-tandem journey: the 225 miles from Kingsburg to Orange, California, returning to our old homestead, Orangeland R. V. Park. Although we could never live in California again for the reasons I have outlined in several articles, it was nice to be back at Orangeland R. V. Park and thus to be so close to that oasis of the Catholic Faith, Our Lady Help of Christians Church.
An incredible number of people, most of whom we had never seen at Our Lady Help of Christians before, were present at First Friday Mass on the Feast of Saint Blaise, February 3, 2006. How good it was to see Father Patrick Perez, whose vast knowledge of the history of the Mass of the ages is matchless, and to once again be present as he used the gifts that Our Lady had bestowed upon him to offer Mass so very well. Father Paul Sretenovic was actually just finishing up a visit with Father Lawrence Smith in Wisconsin that day. We would see him the following day, First Saturday, February 4, 2006.
Close friends of Lucy were at the [simulated] First Friday Mass. Lucy was so happy to see them for the first time since July 5, 2005. And Lucy had a grand time in our one and only visit to Irvine Regional Park, where she spent a lot of time when we would give her breaks from the motor home during our time in residency at Orangeland R.V. Park at various points in the past few years. We said hello to the "slow ponies" on which Lucy had made her first horseback rides in February of 2004, and rode once more on the train that takes visitors around the park. Lucy had all of the energy in the world. Sharon and I were really exhausted. Indeed, I was on the verge of coming down with some kind of virus. We had driven from coast to coast, with a stopover at our rental house in Wisconsin, in the first month of 2006. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
To my utter surprise a few hours later a large number of people turned out for my talk at Our Lady Help of Christians Church. I was not expecting a large number of people, especially on "Super Bowl Sunday." It was just delightful to see so many people present and to stay for the nearly two hour presentation. Father Sretenovic, who was very tired from having gone back to visit his family in New Jersey and thence to see Father Smith in Wisconsin, stayed for the whole talk, as did Father Perez, who is always so gracious and accommodating. It was nice to be back in the Catholic catacombs in southern California, which is being sought out now by over 800 people each Sunday as they flee from the harm of Roger Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Tod Brown, the ordinary of the Diocese of Orange. These folks know that the first law of the Church is the salvation of souls, and that they have the absolute right to assist at the Mass of all ages wherever it is offered by a validly ordained priest. God bless Fathers Perez and Sretenovic for their true pastoral zeal for souls.
Well, the rest of the stay in southern California was relatively uneventful. We returned to Polly's restaurant for breakfast on Monday, February 6, 2006. Just as had been the case on Long Island, where we had been greeted warmly by the folks at Major's and Taby's (as we are at the Milleridge Inn, which we did not have time to visit in early January), the folks at Polly's were happy to see us, especially Lucy. Unfortunately, for her, though, a wood-carved crayon holder in the image of a pig had been stolen in the seven months since we had last been to Polly's, which had restored decent music for the breakfast hours after a brief experiment with the bad stuff last June. Everyone was disappointed for Lucy's sake. She took the loss pretty well, saying, "We'll find it on the Last Day." She got to run around at the "bases" park, as she calls it in recognition of the four different baseball fields that comprise the park, thereafter.
Our favorite mobile r.v. repair man, Mr. Sean Kirby, showed up that afternoon, inventorying the things that needed to be done to get the slides working again and to repair the compartment door for the sewer and water compartment. I called Tag Motors on Long Island to leave a message for their superb repair man, Doug, who called me back the next morning, February 7, to give me the number for Forest River, the manufacturer of our Georgetown motor home, in Goshen, Indiana, to secure that fuse relay box that I had mentioned a few thousand words before. Sean Kirby needed to have the part by the next day, February 8, as he was leaving for Las Vegas and would not be back before we left for that horrible city on February 11. Thus, I had to persuade the folks at Forest River to move a little bit faster than they would have liked to get that fuse relay box sent us via next day air so that Mr. Kirby could install it on February 8. The man at Forest River did ship the part out. It was installed. The slides slid out again. The steps that came out automatically underneath the main coach door began to work properly once again. A few problems remained, including no air conditioning from the dashboard to cool off the driver, that is, me, in the hot California weather. However, the main problems were fixed and it was nice to provide my family with a bit more walking room than we had experienced in the previous two weeks.
A major brush fire darkened the skies over Orange County for several days during our stay there. I noticed a white substance coming out of the sky on Tuesday, February 7. Sharon, who had lived in southern California for twelve years prior to marrying me in 2001, knew what it was immediately: ashes from burnt trees and shrubs that had been carried by the Santa Ana winds. Indeed, Irvine Regional Park, which was pretty close to the center of the fire, was closed after the fire got out of control. I told Sharon at one point, "I think this is the end of the world" as the skies bellowed with the thick smoke and ashes. It turned out, however, that the fire started as a "controlled burn" by the United States government, a fact that was not admitted for a day or two after the fires started to rage. Ah, yes, social engineering in action once again.
We also had to make arrangements to get the Trail Blazer fitted with a new base plate so that it could be towed once again. A place called The Broken Wheel in Santa Ana was a Blue Ox dealer equipped to do the job for us. This required us to rent a car for a day, February 7, and drop off the Trail Blazer so that it could be made towable once again. The gentleman at The Broken Wheel explained that the problem we experienced had been caused most likely by the failure of the towbar locks to lock--or to have come unlocked as we drove. "I've seen it happen before," he said. So much for what I was told in Albuquerque that such a thing never happens. Well, at least that mystery was resolved.
There was, though, just one little problem with the base plate that I did not discover until Friday evening, February 10, 2006, as I put the towbar back onto the motor home and locked it into place for our drive to Las Vegas the next day so that I could speak at Father Peter Otto's Our Lady of Victory Traditional Latin Mass Chapel on Sunday, February 12, 2006. The one little problem was that we were missing a safety pin to connect the towbar to the base plate on the Trail Blazer. I had to scour the internet to find a Blue Ox dealer that would be open on Saturday morning, finding one, Mike Thompson's R. V. Super Store in Fountain Valley, California, that might have it. However, I would not know for sure until after Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians on Saturday, February 11.
The drive to Las Vegas was without incident, thankfully. As soon as we entered that state, however, I told Sharon to be very careful to shield Lucy's eyes from billboards that are even more graphic and indecent than they are in southern California, which is saying a lot. Father Peter Otto (who lives under an assumed name, the one he took in baptism, in a foreign country, that is, this vale of tears that is not our true home, with no extradition treaty with this country, that is, no one can take away our baptismal birthright) had invited me to speak in Las Vegas at the chapel administered by the Society of Saint Pius X. That is the one and only reason that we put Las Vegas on our travel itinerary.
We got to a campground of spectacular proportions around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 11. The campground was so spectacular that our thirty-one foot motor home was dwarfed by those that must have been fifty feet long. Indeed, I discovered that people could buy their own "spaces," replete with outdoor stainless steel barbeques and Tiki lamps and little grass-type umbrellas, for up to $169,000. We wanted to get out of there as soon as we got into our space. The place was enormous, gated-community of excess.
Well, we arose the next morning to go to Mass at Our Lady of Victory. Once again, we were privileged to meet an exemplary priest in the person of Father Otto. As had been the case at Saint Aloysius Retreat House two weeks before, however, the turnout of the faithful at my lecture, "Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations," was but a small percentage of those who had assisted at Holy Mass. Those who did attend the lecture, though, included some loyal readers of this website and some other folks we have met in different places around the nation. One couple who assist at Mass at Saint Ignatius Retreat House in Ridgefield, Connecticut, were there for the day. It was nice to see them again. Las Vegas is a miserable place. It was well worth the detour to speak to the souls at Our Lady of Victory and to meet Father Otto in person after having spoken to him on the phone. We are grateful to him for asking us to stop at his parish, and grateful for the very nice meal he treated us to after the talk that Sunday, Septuagesima Sunday, February 12. We had a very nice time visiting with Father Otto and Dr. Marie France Hilgar, a former professor of French Literature at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who writes for The Angelus.
Assisting at Holy Mass the next morning, February 13, once again, at Our Lady of Victory, we set off down the road after saying our goodbyes for Albuquerque, New Mexico, so that we could get to Holy Mass with Father Bibeau once more on our way to Edmond, Oklahoma, and my encounter with varying stripes of Protestants and Freemasons on February 15. The most direct way to hook up with Interstate 40 from Las Vegas is to go over the Hoover Dam, which I have done once, in June of 2000. The road over the Hoover Dam, US-93, however, is closed to trucks and buses and motor home. We had to take US-95 south from Las Vegas and then cut over to Laughlin, Nevada, to cross into Bullhead City, Arizona, across the Colorado River. It was a most interesting drive, one that I had never done in all of my hundreds of thousands of miles of long-distance driving across the nation in the past thirty-three years. Going up and down the mountain passes with the motor home towing the Trail Blazer did slow us down considerably at points. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Another mountain road, Arizona 68, took us from Bullhead City, Arizona, to, ugh, Kingman, Arizona, where we had had that horrible experience with those mechanics sixteen days before. Knowing how much penance I have to do for my own sins, I was not terribly surprised that we did not escape Kingman unscathed. Oh, no. Oh, yes. Another offering to be given to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
I was minding my own business pumping gasoline into the nearly empty tank of the motor home when a man came up to me and said, "You've got a broken belt on your right front tire. Come on over to our shop and we'll put your spare on for you."
Hmm. Where did this fellow come from? Well, he came from the tire store adjacent to the gasoline station. Was this a rip off? We won't know until the Last Day. Both of the front tires were worn unevenly on the sides. I could see that. How the man could tell a belt was broken inside of the tire was beyond me. All I knew was that our spare was from the original equipment that came with the motor home in 2001, something I would not want on the vehicle for any length of time. One of those original equipment tires, mounted on the left front wheel, blew out while we were driving in the Mojave Desert on Interstate 10 at 70 mph in 107 degree heat on Sunday, September 26, 2004. Although it was not as hot in mid-February of this year as it had been seventeen months earlier, I couldn't take any chances. Maybe I was being telling the truth. Maybe not. I had to err on the side of the caution, realizing that Father Otto's generous stipend was about to be eaten whole.
We pulled over to the tire stop, noticing that there cascades of used tires all over the place. Sharon wondered aloud if they took off the tires from one motor home and put them on the next one that comes into the gasoline station. Again, we won't know until the Last Day. I was given an exorbitant price for two new tires. Not knowing what to do, I called Mr. Chris Lexow in Wisconsin once again to find out if he could get a price for me from one of his own suppliers. This prompted one of the men to say, "I'm not going to lie to you. Your friend can probably get them cheaper than we'll sell them to you." Indeed, this was the case. Chris called back within a few minutes to say that he could get the tires for about ninety dollars cheaper than they were being sold to me in Kingman, Arizona. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
We had to wait for what seemed an eternity for the new tires to be mounted. Sharon and I said to each other this was a good thing one way or the other: that is, it was a good thing if we really needed the tires. It was also a good thing if we didn't need as we simply gave that uncertainty to Our Lady to be used as she saw fit. Everything happens within the Providence of God. He knew from all eternity that my speaking stipend would go to get new tires, which we either needed or we didn't. The evidence of reasonably good looking tires piled about us seemed to suggest the latter. Once again, we couldn't take a chance.
A mini-adventure took place after I had detached the Trail Blazer, something I was not anticipating doing after we had left Las Vegas until we got to Oklahoma City two days later, at the shop. I left the car running while after I had taken it out of neutral, going outside to get my work clothes, which were so thoroughly soaked through with grease that my hands become as dirty with them on as they would have if I detached the car without wearing them. Well, for some strange reason known only to God Himself, the car doors locked. All four of them. I was locked out of the car. Sharon did not know where her own key to the Trail Blazer was. Both of us thought it was back in our rental house in northeastern Wisconsin. Both of us, joined by Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey, prayed to Saint Anthony.
Our OnStar service, which had been provided free of charge after we had purchased the Trail Blazer in November of 2004, had expired. The thought occurred to me that I could renew their "safe and sound" program and have them open up the car via remote. No, I don't quite understand how that is done. Yes, it even frightens me a little bit that it can be done. However, I just wanted the doors open so as to be able to back up the car out of the way of the motor home. As a backup plan, I was prepared to call the American Automobile Association to arrange for a locksmith to open up the car. Within seconds of finalizing the renewal of the OnStar service Sharon announced to me that she had found the spare key in her winter coat in the motor home. The call to AAA did not have to be made. OnStar did not have to use their remote door unlock system. Another offering had been given to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
The two new front tires had been mounted by the time that this adventure-within-an-adventure played out. I had to pay the bill: $862.00, including $118.00 for balancing the tires! I was a little aghast at that last figure. The gentleman explained to me that the charge was $59.00 per tire for a bag of sand (that's right, fifty-nine dollars for a bag of sand) that was inserted into each tire. The bags burst after the tires are driven for a bit, providing, so the story goes, better balancing than the old clips that are put around the rim of a tire. Bye, bye, stipend. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
I got back into the motor home, showing Sharon the receipt. As I was about to back up the motor home so as to pull around to the side of the shop and hook up the Trail Blazer once again so that we could be on our way to Albuquerque, the gentlemen who had just relieved me of the money came up to the driver's window of the motor home:
"The tires are going to shake for the first mile or so before the bags of sand burst and the sand is distributed evenly in the tires."
"I hope so, sir," was my benumbed response.
"No, no," the man said, quite disappointed that I was not impressed with the new method of balancing tires. "This was invented by truck drivers. They know what they're talking about."
Once again, I bemoaned, "I hope so, sir."
The gentleman did not know how to respond.
Thus, I pulled around to the side of the shop and hooked up once again. We were off on our way after a two hour delay, giving everything to God through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother. Sharon and I just laughed, realizing that this is indeed better than Purgatory (or worse). We merrily rolled along once again, doing our travel prayers as we pulled out of the parking lot.
The rest of our recent travels will be chronicled early next week. I want to get back to some substantive writing over the course of the next few days. It is my hope that these travelogues will help those who enjoy reading them to understand a bit more fully that everything that happens to us has been known by God for all eternity. We can help to undo the harm of our sins upon our immortal souls if we give back to Him the serene acceptance of our crosses as the consecrated slaves of the women who made possible our salvation, Mary Immaculate.
All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Some denizens of San Francisco Bay, January 31, 2006:
The motor home, being trailed by the Trail Blazer, Pacheco Pass Road, February 1, 2006:
Going up a mountain pass, Interstate 15, California, February 11, 2006:
No, we did not make this sign up. This is the sign at the tire store in Kingman, Arizona, February 13, 2006.