July 10-12, Bethel, CT- I got up fairly early, Sunday morning, as usual. Somehow, I was a bit like a caged cat, pacing about, doing small chores, none to the satisfaction of Mom, with her plaint of “typical man”, ever in the background. My restlessness, though, had nothing to do with that. I had had a vision of this being my Altima’s last ride and its being replaced by a small white or gray sedan. Besides, I am no longer put off by anyone’s criticism, preferring to keep at a task until it is done to my own satisfaction.
The plan was for me to make it to York, PA and there, try to connect with a young artist, who has made Cherokee crafts, for several years. I bid Mother a loving farewell, after eating the brunch she prepared, and the rain had subsided to her satisfaction.
The drive out, along the Massachusetts Turnpike, to I-84, was uneventful. I stopped, briefly, at Framingham Service Center, and had no problem continuing down the road. After a slow, but steady, passage through Hartford and Waterbury, I decided to pull off at Newtown, and fill the Nissan up with gasoline. I would then go over to Sandy Hook, and pray for the victims of the horrific shooting of 2012.
When I tried to start the Altima, though, smoke began to rise from under the hood. A generous young man gave me a gallon of coolant, which he said had “been left” in his truck. I gave him some money for that, and added a fair amount to the overflow tank.
The engine continued to smoke, and I noticed that the coolant tank, itself, was cracked and useless. A trio of motorcyclists came over and helped me push Altima into a vacant parking space. One of them cautioned me against trying to take the car any further. The Altima, and I, found his advice was sound. Car wasn’t going anywhere, without a tow.
The AAA tow took me to the Days Inn at Bethel, then took Altima to its resting place, Sugar Hill Auto Service Center, on the west side of Newtown. By then, I had contacted my sister-in-law, in Florida and my brother in Georgia, letting them know of the situation. Facebook also learned of my challenge. An hour or so later, arrangements were made for my purchase of another car, by Wednesday, and I made myself at home, in the comfortable second floor room at Days Inn. Three days of continental breakfast, a walk to/from Target, for a few odds and ends, and catching up on my reading and writing, hardly constituted suffering.
The 2005 Altima, though, had endured enough. The litany of engine woes, first taught me by my father, when I was 13: Head gasket leak, valves bent, rings broken, engine kaput swam out of the auto technician’s mouth, at various points along our phone conversation. He had spent two hours in diagnosis, on Monday. Tuesday morning, I told him not to do anything further. I would pay him for his diagnostics and for disposal of the Nissan.
The rest was due diligence on several cars offered by Danbury Auto Group. After looking at several vehicles, online, and discussing with my best friend, I settled on a 2013 Hyundai Elantra. It would be ready on Wednesday, so my relaxation continued.
Nissan Altima required quite a bit of me, financially, but it also took me to Vancouver, BC, once, to Reno and Denver, both twice. and to Southern California, about five times. For an old car, going to the East Coast proved to be the last straw, despite my having had it serviced, just before we left Prescott. Mechanics tended to blame the catalytic converter and a “bad sensor” for the occasional check engine light. I know, now, that it has to be more than that. I am glad for one thing: Its last journey took me to the place of my birth, and at least got me far enough away, that I had to stand on my own two feet, and not place an undue burden on anyone. BF helped, immeasurably, and I will repay him. RIP, my gray vehicle.
NEXT: No York, but Plenty of Martinsburg