flwyd: (charbonneau ghost car)
I spent Thursday through Sunday hanging out with the Colorado burners and other local freaks at Apogaea near Trinidad in southern Colorado. I signed up for the Saturday night graveyard Ranger lead shift (just me and other Ranger rockin' the whole event). I was able to bed down in a camp hammock in the shade at 7am, and managed to kinda-sleep until around noon. I then leisurely ate breakfast and packed up camp, and left the site around 4pm. I took a left at Colorado City and spent an hour at Bishop Castle in the San Isabel Forest in Custer County. If you've never seen Bishop Castle, it's totally worth the detour if you're anywhere near Pueblo or Florence.

I got back to the Denver metro area at about quarter to 10 and cruised up I-25. At 10:20, as I exited onto US-36 to Boulder, my engine started surging and lost momentum. I was able to safely pull over to the side of the highway on top of an overpass. I took a look under the hood and didn't see anything obviously wrong, so I started the car again (something sounded odd) and tried to creep forward to the nearby off ramp. The car felt like it was going about half a mile an hour, which would've taken me until midnight to get off the freeway, so I turned off the engine and called my insurance company's contracted roadside assistance company.

Some combination of busy callers and short call center staffing meant I spent around 15 minutes on hold before I talked to a person, who said she'd dispatch a tow truck and that I'd get a confirmation text message in 10–15 minutes. 20 minutes later, I called back and spent a couple more minutes on hold. The representative said someone was still working on getting ahold of a tow for me. A few more minutes passed and I got a text that said Apple Towing & Roadside Assistance would provide the tow with an ETA of 12:30am (two hours after my initial phone call). I hung out in my car, feeling the shake as vehicles passed by in the right lane, ate camping snacks, and played games on my iPod for a while. 12:30 came with no tow truck, so I called the number given in the text (303-222-4343), which led to a recorded message that a voice mailbox had not been set up, then disconnected. I called twice more with the same result and then called roadside assistance again. After another 10+ minutes waiting in the queue, the agent tried calling the company a couple times and also couldn't get ahold of them, so they put in another dispatch request.

Finally at 1:30am, a guy with a wrecker from 24/7 Towing showed up. Holy cow was I excited to see him. He loaded up my Subaru and homeward we went. A couple minutes into the ride, a supervisor from the roadside assistance contractor called me and said he was trying to figure out why I hadn't been picked up yet. I said I had just been picked up and gave him the name of the tow company, so he said he'd go poke at their computer system.

At 2:03am I joyously walked into my front door, kissed my wife, and took a shower. (OMG was I dirty after four days running around like a weirdo in the mountains.) Final bedtime was something like 2:30am. I'd already told my coworkers that I might take Monday off, knowing I might be tired from the graveyard shift, so I set a goal of sleeping in. A combination of my internal clock, the near-solstice sun, and a hungry cat woke me up at 8:30, but I was able to relax in bed for a couple hours, which was almost as nice as sleep.

Final score: 270 mile, 10 hour trip home. 5.5 hours driving, 1 hour climbing a castle and taking photographs, 3 hours on the side of the freeway, half an hour in a tow truck.

There was a bit of a happy coda. After unloading on Monday I couldn't even get the car to start, so I called roadside assistance back to see if a tow from my house to the repair shop would be covered. The representative said it wouldn't be, but then looked at my record in the computer system which still showed that no tow had arrived. She was therefore able to schedule my 2-mile tow under the original claim at no additional cost. So I had that going for me, which was nice.

I'd been worried that this might be the final outing for my car, which is now 20 years old, and has 213k miles and a bunch of body damage. It turns out that the failure was due to my fuel pump, which only cost $850 to replace (along with the fuel filter and diagnostics), which seemed like a better deal than shopping around for a new vehicle (since I'm not sure quite what my next ride should be).

Hopefully my family is done with car trauma for the year. In March, my mom totaled her Subaru by running into a large rock at the corner of her street and my dad's minivan stopped operating safely, so they ended up buying two used vehicles in the span of a week. And then in May, Kelly's car got totaled in the crazy Denver hail storm, though the car is still fully functional.
flwyd: (charbonneau ghost car)
Dear thieves who rummage through the center consoles of unlocked parked cars in the middle of the night,

I leave my car unlocked because there's nothing worth stealing in it. The $20 Target sunglasses with scratched lenses and a missing chunk of plastic have no resale value. The similar pair that's missing one of the ear pieces is worth even less. Please leave all pairs of cheap sunglasses in the car: they aren't much use to you, but they will help me get to work in the morning.

the guy with a beat up Subaru
flwyd: (intense aztec drummer DNC 2008)
Two weeks ago Wednesday, on Boulder's winter bike to work day, I was feeling pretty good on my commute. The weather was warm, there was no snow or ice to be seen, and I had a good head of steam on a downhill and a green light ahead of me on the 28th St. frontage road at Colorado Avenue.

But as I approached the intersection, a white pickup truck suddenly appeared in front of me, making an illegal right turn from northbound 28th. I clamped down on my brakes as hard as I could, but my frankencruiser's brake pads are pretty smooth. With the time dilation of an adrenaline rush it felt like I was gripping the brakes for a couple seconds, but in reality it was probably more like 15 to 20 feet before I hit the truck bed straight on.

If you don't care to read a long narrative about how I crashed my bike, sprained my wrist, went to the ER, and then went to work for the afternoon, you can stop reading now. )


Thursday, February 8th, 2007 09:33 am
flwyd: (charbonneau ghost car)
I worked at home for the last two and a half days on the grounds that I seemed to have flu-lite (ache-free and 30% fewer calories than regular flu). I think I consumed 10 pots of tea in that time, most with lemon juice added. (Free advice: never add lemon juice to vanilla hazelnut tea.) I spent most of the time sitting at the kitchen table using my laptop; my shoulder and back aches are reinforcing my decision to stand to program at work.

My throat was still scratchy this morning, but when I looked out the window and saw thick fog as far as the eye could see, I got excited. Metro Denver only gets serious fog every few years. And after nearly two years of broken, my fog lights got fixed on Saturday. I'd be damned if I missed a chance to use them! As a bonus, the rush hour commuters who drive slowly on C-470 if there's an accident in the ditch on the other side of the road managed to handle the fog with surprising sensibility and flow.

On a Downer Note

Friday, October 27th, 2006 09:48 pm
flwyd: (Akershus Castle cobblestones)
So I didn't comprehend that my comprehensive coverage doesn't cover my $2,000 head gasket replacement. And I used my 10% off coupon on the radiator repair...

It's a good thing I'm not very attached to money, but I can think of a lot of ways I'd rather spend $2,000 than on auto repairs. Next time I move I'll be sure to be in alternative transportation range of work.

Tranny Sport Nation

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 07:45 pm
flwyd: (farts sign - Norway)
Two weeks ago I took my car to the dealer because steam was pouring out of the front of my car after my 20 minute commute. The radiator had split, and had to be replaced, to the tune of around $400. It ran well for the next few weeks, but would suddenly jump heat from medium to high near the end of journeys. I'd been informed for the last year or more that I had a leaky head gasket, so I figured it was time for replacement (not wanting to have an overheating emergency in the middle of a snowy pass or something). Replacing a head gasket is apparently an involved operation, as it took two and a half days and $1,500 of labor. (Can I get an "amen" for comprehensive coverage? Finally I have a repair which is over my $500 deductible. I'd previously been the master of $450 repairs.)

On Monday morning I walked from the dealership to work (close to 2 miles), finding a few leaf piles to trudge through. I set my alarm on beep for 7 so I could catch the bus in the morning. On Tuesday morning, my clock dutifully beeped and I turned it off so Tam could sleep in. She then wrapped an arm around me and I figured "I've got some time, I'll lie in an embrace for a while." Half an hour later, I woke up again and realized I wouldn't make my Utah meeting (which I like to miss anyway). I walked across the mall parking lot and caught the 100. This bus goes up Kipling to Cold Spring and on to Westminster Park-n-Ride. The 125 then runs from Cold Spring past my office building. I'd like take the bus to work on a regular basis, but there are two problems. First, it takes me 20 minutes to drive 14 miles to work, but the bus takes an hour. Second, the 100 stops running at about six, which is quite inconvenient for people who like to work later and people who want to hang out with a friend in one suburb and live in a different suburb.

This morning I successfully got out of bed at 7 and again walked across the parking lot. Thanks to the wonders of Daylight Saving Time, I got to watch the sun rise, take pictures of nice lighting, and walk through more piles of leaves. I also got to read some Wicked, something I certainly can't do while driving. This evening I made the two mile return walk to pick up the car.

With all this walking and reading, I've been pretty effective at work. I'd love to drive only to the grocery store and far away places, and the next time I have a good opportunity to choose employment and housing, I'll endeavor to make sure they're closer together. At least when I pay $2,300, I'd get a fabulous new bike.
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