Thursday, September 11, 2008

On a Lonely Wilderness Road...

Meet my car:
a silver 2001 Jetta who, since being in my possession merely a year has endured a lot.
I mean - a lot.
I drove it 900 miles from Texas to Kentucky.
My sister backed into it and dented the passenger door.
I hit somebody with her in July, causing over $3,000 worth of damage.
Her battery died.
I outfitted her to pull 2,000 pounds of weight.
I asked her to pull that weight 2,500 miles.
Her tire went flat; she got new ones.

Just when her life was looking up and I'm sure she was thinking she might be getting a break, she finds herself stuck on the side of a wilderness road, bleeding, almost dead with a panicked driver.

It was around 6 a.m. Monday when her and I were driving from Mom's house to my house, a four-hour drive but one I was going to make to get to work on time. The back-story is slightly complicated but I'll sum it up in a sentence: my mom wasn't ready for me to move into and I needed a place to stay over the weekend so I went to Mom's.

At 6 a.m. the sun has barely risen over the New Mexico mountains, it's cold, the elk are moving and the cows that are given free range of the wilderness are grazing alongside the road and crossing it occasionally.

I think I was listening to one of my little brother's CDs given the fact that when you hit SCAN on the radio, it starts at one Mexican music station and ends up there 10 seconds later.

I'd already been driving for an hour. Thirty minutes was spent getting down the driveway to my car, which we'd left at the end of it due to the rain and the inability for a non-4-wheel drive to navigate the mud and clay. Another 30 minutes was driving down the mountain to another mountain and making my way to Cloudcroft, the nearest town to my Mom's.

At 6:15 I was still driving on this lonesome road when I saw a buck standing in the ditch to my left and a rock in the middle of my lane.

I ran over the rock.
And heard what sounded like popcorn under my car.
I knew something was probably wrong but I kept driving.

About 45 seconds later, my oil light started flashing and the alarm went off.
I asked her to please wait until we got to Cloudcroft.
She didn't.

The oil light kept blinking and about 30 seconds after that, I lost power to everything.
No gas, nothing.

I steered her over as far as I could before everything came to a halt.
I freaked.

For some reason, which I still don't know why, I popped my hood, jumped out of the car and looked at the engine. I grabbed my phone and camera, shut the hood and started walking.
I wanted to cry but knew that wasn't going to get me anywhere.

I had no cellphone service, I was stuck between two gigantic mountains in the very early-morning light, I was dressed in jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and flip-flops.

At the top of a slight hill, I looked at my phone and saw enough service to possibly make a call. I tried Mom. No answer. She was taking the kids to the school bus.
I called 911 and between breaking up with her multiple times, relayed the message that I needed a tow truck, I was on Hwy. 130 and I wasn't hurt.

I called Katie, got the ranch foreman's number, called him and asked him to meet Mom on the driveway and tell her what had happened.
"I think I hit a deer and it did something to my engine."

Several people stopped and asked if I needed help. One guy suggested I stand on the other side of my car and flag people as they came around the corner. I did.
It didn't really work, though. They saw a random girl waving at people alongside the road, slowed down temporarily but then sped up again until they saw my car broke down in their lane.

An hour later, a state police officer arrived. We sat in his car. He had just come back from a Disneyland cruise with his son the night before so I learned about that. He was ex-military, tired of the police force, from New York, divorced, wanted to move but his ex-wife wouldn't let him. It's amazing what you can learn about people.

Forty-five minutes after he arrived, a sheriff's deputy pulled up. The three of us stood on the side of the road and talked about how my whole engine could have possibly blown up but that hopefully it was just the oil pan.


An hour later the tow truck came.
He loaded up my poor car, I got in the passenger seat and we rode to the only garage in Cloudcroft.

Still no sign of mom.

At the garage, I was left alone. No tow truck, no state officer, no deputy. I told the garage man what had happened and he said he could fix it.

Then I started walking. I was heading toward the highschool where my brother was. By this time, it was nearly 3 hours since the original incident happened.
I needed a hug. Something.

I didn't make it very far walking when Mom, my little brother and the ranch foreman pulled up. They had been unsure as to what part of Hwy. 130 I was on.
We went and sat in a restaurant for breakfast and they listened to me rant about my experiences in the dawn hours on a wilderness road.

I was really afraid, there was no doubt.
Mountain lion?
Car explosion?

You name it - I thought of it.

But in the end, nothing like that happened.
I was 4 hours late for work but everyone survived.

So right now I'm driving my mom's truck and my car, my poor car, is four hours away waiting for an oil pan.
And I'm impatiently awaiting its return.
She's probably glad for the break.

1 comment:

Cat said...

You are a strong woman! I am very proud of you for surviving that morning without totally breaking down - way to go!!! Didn't that give you a feeling of accomplishment once it was over and you were home safe?

Congratulations on making your way through the morning and coming out the other side stronger!