Adventures of the Meschy Kind: Instalment #1

I mentioned in my introduction that my family is known for having misadventures when we travel, right? Well, I thought I’d share them with you in my installments of “Adventures of the Meschy Sort” (and yeah, I’m sticking with that pun).

In early June, I set out with my awesome brother on a 5 1/2 week road trip through the western United States. We’re currently in the middle of that trip and have made it up to Montana/Yellow Stone National Park. When we started out, we were driving the family towing vehicle – a now 10 year old Saturn Outlook whose transmission had never quite worked right but had never really needed to go more than the half mile to the dump and back. We lovingly referred to this vehicle as “The Beast;” at the time, it was the largest car we owned and a pain to park.

If you didn’t know, there are a lot of hills on the 101 as you drive through California and up into Oregon. “The Beast” was doing pretty well, including making it up the frightening hill to our site in Carmel, CA (it was frightening without a trailer to be honest). We were in between sites in California when this odd alarm went off…our traction control was automatically turning off and the “stabilitrack” system needed service (apparently). We did what any 20-something-year-olds would and called Dad who promptly looked to Google and decided that it would probably be ok. We kept going.

The drive between California and Bandon, OR got really interesting. Suddenly, the traction control is permanently off, the stabilitrack alarm is going off more frequently, and the check engine light comes on. Along with all of the flashing idiot lights, the car starts making and odd clicking sound, and a movie-worthy grinding, groaning noise whenever you turn left and accelerate through the turn. And we have 4 more hours left of a drive through some very quiet country. Oh boy.

We made it to Bandon, don’t worry. No tow truck necessary. We then had a conference with the folks and decided to drive (without the trailer) to the nearest Auto-zone an hour away to see if they could help us diagnose what was wrong.

Long story short, we managed to knock a cylinder out of line with all of our uphill driving and therefor make the connecting drive shaft very angry which threw off the traction control. The truly wonderful, helpful man at Auto-zone suggested driving as little as possible…we drove the hour back to the campsite. Even more fun was the fact that it was Friday, and, in small-town Oregon, all of the auto garages were closed for the weekend. So we rearranged plans and hunkered down for the weekend in our pretty little KOA campsite. My folks decided that it wasn’t worth it to fix the car, so we replaced it. Mom flew out, got everything traded around with us, and flew home in the course of a long weekend, and we are finishing our trip with a spiffy new Toyota Sequoia which has lovingly been dubbed “Sherman” by my brother (after the WWII American tanks).

Go big or go home right? Welcome to adventures in the Mescher clan. Stay tuned for whatever comes next. We always do…