Meanwhile, At The Mechanic Shop...
Our pride and joy on the California Coast.
Clementine ain’t a young gun, and she ain’t a sports car. She ain’t a luxury vehicle, a whip, or a hooptie. She is however, our pride and joy, and our home. So when she gets into trouble, we get very concerned.
Much like a parent with a child who recently contracted chicken pox… We probably knew it was going to happen eventually, moreover we probably even knew we couldn’t do anything about it, but that doesn’t change how we stress about her, dote on her, and chat to her when we’re ready for bed. Yup… We chat to our van.
She had been doing alright after some minor maintenance in Palm Springs - one of the oil changers in the area had stripped our oil drain plug, and our valve cover gasket was leaking oil. We were literally a smoke-show driving around all the convertibles in Palm Springs… Much like The Mystery Machine.
Juuuust like the Mystery Machine, but the fumes were from leaking oil, honest…
But now we were in Santa Cruz with a blown transmission, and it felt like an exercise in futility for awhile. The transmission blew on the first weekend of March… March 1st to be exact. We had ordered a rebuilt transmission on March 4th, to be sent out to a UPS Store two weeks hence. After that, we would pick it up and get the work done.
Yet when I called two weeks hence to the day, March 17th, they had lost our invoice. They lost our order altogether. No - don’t worry, they didn’t charge anything - however, they had simply lost all record of our transmission order, address, etc. Therefore, no work had been done, and on March 17th, we were… Well… Back at step 1.
I appealed to the owner of Rancho Performance Transaxles, Sam, and laid out my case. To be fair - Sam had no idea what had happened. I had ordered with one of his staff, but seeing as that staff member had lost the order prior to production, there was no reasonable way for me to expect Sam to know about it. He understood my problem, and immediately set to rectifying it.
A new transmission would be built within the day, and shipped to us the next day. Shipping would be paid for, and the core-deposit cost was lowered. I was happy with that - and to Sam’s credit, he got it done.
Clementine on the lift at one of the world’s foremost VW repair shops, Volks Cafe. (Which is also Van Cafe)
At this point we contacted our friend at Volks Cafe, Orion, and he said he could get the work done. We took Clementine in for a little spa day, and to switch out the old transmission with the new… Until, well… Another little hiccup.
Orion was awesome - he got the old out and the new transmission in in record time, but when connecting the shifting rod to the gear selector, he found there was a serious problem.
The new transmission sent by Rancho had been knocked around in shipping (You will rue this day, UPS.) and the transmission was locked in 1st… Unfortunately, the transmission was already mounted. Annnd, it was Sunday. The mechanic shops, including Rancho, were all closed. SO, we parked our sick little van by Folks Cafe, and waited another day out. (VERY reminiscent of Selkirk, Thanksgiving in Sault Ste. Marie, and so on…)
Wanna see somethin’ gross? Our transmission drain plug.
As we waited outside the Volks Cafe, something a little different happened.
We got hit.
Clemmy’s ruffled feathers. She wasn’t happy.
Don’t worry - it wasn’t a big hit, and actually, the guy that hit us was pretty nice about everything. He was driving a big UHaul Box Truck, and was evidently getting used to it’s size… He was trying to park, and nearly took our mirror right off.
To be totally honest, I was less worried about the mirror and more worried about the safety of this poor man. As soon as Kasey saw it go down there was a stream of curses, and it was like she dropped the gloves in a hockey fight… She is going to murder this man, I thought. She stormed out of the van in a flurry of ferocity, walked a quick, deliberate circle and got back into the passenger seat - fuming.
But I stepped out and chatted with Keith, the gentleman, and we worked it out - he bought us a new mirror. We went and had a beer, and were tempted to get whiskey at The Crepe Place…
Oh whiskey oh whiskey please sing me a song…
I digress - we were waiting for Monday to come around so we could call Rancho, and then a mechanic. We called Sam early in the morning on Monday, and (again) to his credit, he got to work fixing the issue.
Enter Greg & Paula, a racing couple. Greg - a VW Guru, geologist, and racing fanatic. Paula - a passionate VW driver, Queen of The Mountain, and artichoke afficionado. They are an amazing couple doing what they want and when they want. Check out their collection here!
Sam had come up with a plan… Greg & Paula would pick us up, and tow our Clementine about an hour south to Sand City, California. There the work would be done in a day, and Clementine should be road ready the next day - Tuesday. Everything would be paid for, all we had to do was wait another hour or so.
It worked out perfectly. Greg & Paula picked us up, we stopped for some french-fried artichokes (AWESOME), and got to Sand City in an hour. We dropped Clementine off and they took us for a tour of Monterey - we saw the Monterey Cannery (where Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row is based), had a couple drinks and went for dinner. Aside from poor Paula & Greg getting into a minor car accident, it was really nice to meet them and hang out with them…
Monterey on a rainy day is better than Fort MacMurray on a sunny day…
It was a strange month, but we slept in our immobile van one more time - thoughts crossing our mind all night long. What if this doesn’t work?Or, What next? Even the thought of selling Clementine once she was running legitimately crossed my mind.
The next day went quick. Pierre, at Just Andy Repair Shop, had Clementine ready at 11am.
He worked magic. Clementine has been a breeze - a sweetheart. She still groans, complains and rattles - but like I said… She’s not a luxury car, she’s not a whip and she’s definitely not a young gun… She’s our home.
Our sweet, sweet home.