FL Van Sees Snow; Surrenders

Snow - Kingsway Dr - 01-20-2016My Odyssey van took a dusting of snow on Tuesday afternoon in stride, even making me switch the heated seat setting from High to Low and turn down the heater.

Predictions had been all over the place for the days leading up to the “snow event,” as the TV folks like to dub it. At first, we were going to get a mix of sleet and freezing rain; then they thought snow would be 1-2 inches, then 2-4, then 4-6, and once it went all the way up to 10-12, before dialing back to 6-8 or thereabouts. In reality, I doubt if we got more than two inches.

“Asking for a friend”

Since I’d been gone a bit, the cupboards were mostly bare. (Question: if you’ve had milk in the fridge for, say, six or eight weeks, and it has lumpy stuff floating on the top of it, is it safe to call it cottage cheese and eat it if you pour on enough sugar? As Bill Hopkins would say, “Asking for a friend.”) Even I know that if something in a plastic zipper bag has something green growing in it like these plants at the old Plaza Galleria, it is best to carry it outside immediately.

I wasn’t looking forward to braving the lines in the stores to stock up, but it wasn’t too crazy. I DID note a lot of bread, milk, chips and toilet paper in the baskets fore and aft. I didn’t see much beer or booze, however. I guess Cape folks keep plenty of that on hand just in case someone slips Prohibition back into the lawbooks without anybody noticing.

“I give up! Take me home”

Snow - Kingsway Dr - 01-20-2016What did I see the next morning? My poor van was holding up its little arms like a dying cockroach and begging to leave the land of Wind Chill to go back to a place where they talk about the Heat Index in January.

Actually, the idea of lifting my wipers was something Kid Matt passed on: “The lifting the wipers thing seems a new trend based on this article from Cleveland. Everyone in Oregon and Washington seemed to be doing it…”

I’m not sure I’d do that in a parking lot where it might tempt vandals, but I was cool doing it in my driveway. I didn’t go anywhere today, so I didn’t test how well it worked. We’re supposed to get some indeterminate amount of snow Thursday and Friday, so I’ll get another shot at it.

It BETTER snow this winter. I bought 50 pounds of ice melt. The way the woodpile is going down, I may be trading it for firewood soon.

Bad Halloween Car Karma?

KLS van being towed 11-02-2015Hey, I did my part. I bought a giant bag of candy. There was a plastic jack o’lantern on the planter by the front door. The porch light and pole light were on. I waited patiently for little ghosts and goblins to show up.

Nary a tap, ring, honk, hoot or holler all Halloween night. I was forced to diminish the bag of candy to assuage my disappointment.

Sunday night, needing to go to the store to restock the pantry. I crawled into the car and turned the key. The silence was deafening. It was as quiet as the doorbell on Halloween.

There was a guy dumping glass in a recycle dumpster at the fire station across the street. Somebody who recycles would surely be willing to give me a jump, right?

He agreed to help, but then he remembered that his battery lives under his rear seat. I’d never heard of that since VW days, but I wasn’t going to argue with him.

Neighbor tried to help

KLS van being towed 11-02-2015The neighbor down the hill from me was home, so he hooked his truck up to my battery. No joy. We changed the grip on the terminals several times, touched the ends of the cables together (which created an impressive arc), revved up his engine, scratched our heads, then gave up.

The headlights still burned brightly and the power doors and other toys all worked fine. That made it unlikely that my new battery was dead. Someone on the internet suggested disconnecting one of the battery leads for ten minutes, then hooking it up again as a way of rebooting the computer. While it was off, I used a terminal cleaner wire brush to make sure the terminal was clean. No go.

It was time to use my Hondacare extended warranty. Within an amazingly short time, a young man from Sperling’s Garage and Wrecker Service showed up. After doing all the things I had done, he tried tapping on the starter to get its attention. Still silence except for one tiny “click” from the starter when the key was turned.

He said it needed to be towed to the Mother Ship, Cape Honda. I told him to close out the ticket and that I’d arrange to have it towed in the morning rather than having it sit on their lot overnight.

Everybody was super nice

KLS van being towed 11-02-2015

After trying to start it Monday morning, I gave up and called Hondacare again. Another nice guy from Sperling’s showed up. After hearing everything we had tried, he said it was time to play Hook the Honda. There was a problem, though. The van was parked ass-end out, and it needed to be grabbed from the front. Wrecker One called Wrecker Two for assistance.

[An aside. One late night, I heard over the police radio, “Athens 1 to Headquarters.” “Headquarters, go ahead Athens 1.” “Headquarters, call me a wrecker.” “Headquarters to Athens 1, you’re a wrecker.”]

Before long, the two guys had me hooked up and headed to Honda. A couple hours later, the service department called to say my van’s starter was Dead on Arrival, and a transplant would have to come in from St. Louis on Tuesday. It should be ready by the end of the day. The good news was that I qualified for a loaner car and the warranty would cover the repair (roughly $358 to $657 based on Internet estimates).

I forgot to mention one other Only in Missouri thing: the neighbor from down the hill came up while the wrecker guys were working and offered me the use of her car for the day if I needed it. I’ve NEVER had that happen in Florida.

Computer had sympathy pains for the van

Oh, yeah, if that wasn’t enough. The first thing I saw Monday morning was a cry for help from my computer: one of my hard drives had gone critical and needed replacing. If you don’t hear from me, then the replacement didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped.

What do I do to chase this mechanical rain cloud away? Do I have to post a cute cat picture to reverse the bad car karma?

Odds and Ends Day

KLS van 03-30-2014I forgot I had taken this shot of my loaded van just before I pulled out of the driveway. Not everything in there is mine: two-thirds of it is taken up with some old computer equipment I’m donating to the museums in Altenburg and Athens.

Morning started off great

Lake City MotelI mentioned how I had gotten a good rate on a small, but clean room in Lake City. When I checked out, I had a nice chat with the desk clerk. I asked if he knew of anyplace close where they could replace a nosepiece on my eyeglasses. He suggested Eyeglass Express, just up the road.

Kristina (“With a ‘K'”) McFarland replaced both nosepieces at no charge. They even grind their own lenses there. I’m tempted to get my next set of glasses in Lake City just so I can watch them being made.

Even cheaper rooms

Alabama Motel - 231 -03-312-2014I might have been able to get even cheaper rooms here on 231 outside Troy, Alabama, but I think the sign may have been all that was left.

It reminds me of the place Friend Shari and I ran across last year.

A squirrely encounter

Rest stop 03-31-2014_6627Yesterday’s rest stop photo involved horsin’ around. Today’s photo was a little squirrely. I couldn’t figure out what a young couple was doing. They were running around trying to take low-angle photos with their cell phones and tablets.

Finally, I saw what intrigued them: there was a squirrel running around on the sidewalk. The woman got some potato chips out of her car and tried to entice the little rodent into eating from her hand, but it wasn’t biting, so to speak.

I should have checked out their car tag to see where they had come from that didn’t have squirrels. (Like yesterday, I didn’t even have to get out of the car to shoot the rest stop photo.

Where’s my peanut brittle?

Oaks Restaurant 03-31-2014The Oaks Restaurant in Marianna, Florida, has the best peanut brittle I’ve ever eaten. I picked my route specifically so I could snag some for family and friends who also love it. I even called ahead of Friday to have them set aside seven slabs of it for pickup on Monday or Tuesday.

When I got to the place, I was sure glad I had called ahead because the basket where the crunchy nectar lives was empty. The cashier called the owner – Eddie, I think his name was.

Eddie said, “I thought you were coming Tuesday.”

“I said Monday or Tuesday. I’m usually late, but I’m actually either on time or early, depending on how you look at it.”

Eddie broke the news to me: he hadn’t been able to get the word to the woman who makes the brittle. He’s leaving her a voicemail message in the photo. “Could you not smile so much?” I asked him. “I need a sad photo to show all the people I’m going to disappoint.”

No tailgating this guy

Trusk 03-31-2014As soon as I saw the “Explosives” placard on the back of this 18-wheeler, I decided to pass him and put some distance between us. Maybe I should stop at a truck stop to buy one of those signs to put on the back of my bike.

I should roll into Cape late Tuesday afternoon.