Wednesday, July 10, 2013

HEADLINE: Pulled Over in Lusk, Wyoming by Officer Toby Keith.

Written by Karen.
We criss-crossed across the small town of Lusk, Wyoming several times as we met people who could help us with our current mechanical predicament. 

Within a few hours, we met Robin at the automobile parts store; Harold, a mechanic who had never worked on VW's but was willing to give it a try if master mechanic Gary couldn't help us; Jim, who offered to drive us to Cheyenne if we needed to rent another car; Jessie, who brought us freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies to help keep up our good cheer; Linda, a cancer survivor and co-owner of an RV campground; and - finally - Gary, a master mechanic who had seen just about everything mechanical and was a Harley Davidson motorcycle rider. 
Everyone knew everyone else in town and called ahead to tell the next person our story. By the time we walked to our next destination red-faced and perspiring, we didn't have to say too much.  Plans were being made and things were moving fast.  Gary agreed to take a look at Chinook the following morning at 8:30 a.m.  Bravery personified!

We were up early the next morning.  We didn't know what to expect from Chinook, but hoped for the basics: that we could get Chinook started; that we hadn't damaged the engine the previous day; and, that we could keep Chinook rolling for the six blocks to Gary's shop without stalling or overheating.  It was a lot to hope for.

Chinook was initially obstinate about the idea of moving. He just wasn't interested.  It was 8:25 a.m., and I was getting a bit frantic.  We had made promises, and with no cell phone coverage, there wasn't a time-effective way to let people know that we were stuck - again.  

Chinook finally breathed out a few ragged gasps of life and Adam gently nursed him along the empty residential streets directly towards Gary's repair facility. Chinook sounded awful - sputtering and missing badly - and was already threatening to overheat again despite the cool morning air.  We were starting to strongly smell eau de hot coolant and the temperature gauge was reading dangerously high. It was going to be touch and go, but we were almost there.

We were intensely focused on keeping Chinook rolling and didn't notice at first the blue and red lights flashing on the police car right behind us.  We pulled over 50 feet away from Gary's shop.  The dreaded red overheat light started to flicker on.   This dastardly dash light meant that we had just a few minutes before Chinook would either stall or start spewing copious amounts of steaming coolant directly out of the back vents.  

In response to this conundrum, I thought I'd just pop out of the passenger side of the van and see if I could help facilitate this issue quickly with the officer as Chinook continued to sputter and started to pass hot and steamy coolant burps as we idled at the side of the road.  Perhaps we could talk about the reasons why we had been pulled over once we arrived safely at Gary's?  Of course, this is a silly idea. The officer also thought this was a bad idea.   

The officer sauntered up to the driver's window with his silver mirrored aviator sunglasses and started to lecture me about getting out of the car during a traffic stop.  He then turned to Adam, took off his sunglasses and started to lecture him about rolling through a stop sign and choosing to not - gulp! - wear our seat belts.  

But, I had stopped listening. This police officer looked exactly like Toby Keith, the country music singer.  We were getting pulled over by Toby Keith's doppleganger! I sat back in my seat and started to enjoy the moment a bit more. Adam did a fantastic job of explaining our current mechanical situation with Chinook and how we usually never drive without our seat belts fastened, and eventually Toby let us go with a warning.

Chinook died at the curb right in front of Gary's shop, and Toby helped Adam get Chinook into the shop.  Gary was working underneath a Ford truck and dryly inquired how we managed to get a police escort.  We briefly described our interaction with Toby and Gary said, "Well, you're from California, right? Why didn't you just say that you were doing a California stop?!"

We all laughed.  No hard feelings.  Everything worked out okay.  Over the next couple of days, we'd see Toby driving patrol around town and we'd wave and he'd wave back and give us the thumbs up. We felt like locals in this small - but extremely gracious - town of Lusk, Wyoming.  

Team Gary and Adam.  Adam is reading the VW repair manual to Gary as they are trying to trouble shoot the coolant issue.
Gary's office
The contents of our campervan in a haphazard pile
Meet Gary.  A true master mechanic and a joy of a human being.  It turns out that our coolant hose developed a crack and most of the coolant had drained out.  Gary was able to figure out a solution that is still working today.  He re-arranged his schedule and worked steadily for two days in order to get us back on the road again.  If you ever break down near Lusk, Wyoming, Gary is your man!


Anonymous said...

wow are you split personalities..in luisk and in calif?..glad you are running the car that is..dad

Anonymous said...

California stop? lol. Thats so nice you were not given a ticket. It's all about the way you approach the police officer. I am looking forward to seeing the two of you soon.

Observers of Life said...

The blog is just a tad behind real time....More stories to come..... :)


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you are getting the van fixed--and having an another adventure in Wyoming. My 20 year old minivan's starter recently gave up--fortunately the minivan was in the driveway when the starter died.
Steve S

Observers of Life said...

Hi Steve!

Sorry to hear about the starter going kaput! But, if it was going to fail, failing in your driveway was the kindest way to fail! ;)