Friday, November 16, 2007

The Tragedy of Life in a Van

Backstory: When I was 18 years old, I had a Honda Civic that caught on fire while on a road trip to Chicago. It caught on fire soon after the heat gauge went from C to H, so let's just say I have some experience with that particular gauge. Anyway, as we started up our first major pass, I glanced over at the aforementioned gauge and noticed that rather than resting comfortably on C, it was bouncing around midway towards H. At the same time, the van was barely able to keep 45 km/hour. Not wanting to be engulfed in a ball of flame (the diesel engine of the van was just below our seats), we immediately pulled over. The telltale sign of a radiator hissing and the smoke and the steam of water hitting the engine seemed to indicate we pulled over just in time.

When we looked at the engine, it seemed like we could just let it cool down, coast back down the hill to town and get a new hose. But no, suddenly the first crack of the hose occurred and steam started billowing into the van. In a flurry of motion, we quickly through all of our bags and food out of the van and onto the side of the road. Once complete we stood back thinking the worst was over, but of course it wasn't. Not 5 minutes of standing and staring later, there was a loud crack and a second geiser of steam as water and coolant poured out from below the van. Coasting the van downhill no longer seemed an option.

Maybe I'm romanticizing NZ, but I was amazed that the very first car that passed, turned around and came back down the hill to help us, without us even trying to flag anyone down. They let us use their cell phone, which miraculously had reception, and we called our rental van guy, who called a tow truck for us. The truck showed up within the hour. Thank you kind strangers!

Once back at the garage, the mechanic found that the problems with the van were pretty extensive (suspicion confirmed!), and included a busted water line and burned out turbo. The tragedy of the van indeed...

For those worried that we may be stuck in some town in the middle of NZ, fear not, our van guy did come through with a replacement that he drove down the next day. We have dubbed the new van 'Delicious V' in a spate of wild optimism. It is a little less dingged up and a lot more capable of keeping up with the flow of traffic. Not bad attributes in a Mystery Machine Mark II.

1 comment:

leora said...

If it weren't for those meddling kids...