Thursday, August 04, 2005

Adventures in Moving

Yesterday I got ahold of a real live person about getting some Quad-Lock, and they said they had what I needed, and picking it up would be a lot cheaper than shipping, given the price of gas these days. And quicker for me, so I can move forward with the addition. I was so excited I wrote a note to Kat about where I'd be and then promptly took the note with me along with the various plans and estimates I was taking.

The excitement passed quickly enough. Cue the sound of a needle scratching across a record of Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild".

I rented a U-Haul truck that would be big enough to haul the necessary Quad-Lock, and then some. I got as far as I-505 (it cuts over from I-80 to I-5, so as to avoid going through Sacramento), and the engine temperature gauge went from the middle to pegged at the 'H', and the check engine light came on. I pulled over, things seemed reasonable (oil OK, coolant OK though hot, which was not surprising since I was driving through the Central Valley in mid-day with the AC on), so I waited a bit. The temperature gauge was OK and the engine light was out, so I went onward. I got towards the north end of I-505, and it happened again, so I went to the next gas station I saw, the Pilot truck stop in Dunnigan. At this point the coolant was boiling, so I called U-Haul's 800 number for road side service.

They told me it would be up to 1.5 hours, since I was "between service areas" (which is to say "in the middle of nowhere as far as we're concerned", even if I was less than 45 minutes from Sacramento). They were very nice, though, and had helpful suggestions like checking the oil, coolant, etc. A bit more than 2.5 hours later, a truck repair guy from Yuba City showed up. He too was very helpful, and added some coolant (since a bunch had boiled away) and had me start the truck up and rev it. Amongst other things, he observed that the faster I revved, the slower the fan went. When the engine was stopped, he noted that the fan was pretty loose -- he shouldn't be able to move it easily with the engine stopped, but could. To prove his point, he stuck his hand in with the engine running and stopped the fan blade. Normally this is "a bad idea", and shouldn't be possible with anything less stout than a wrench lest you want to lose a finger or three.

At this point, I'd long since missed a chance to pick up the Quad-Lock, he didn't have a lot of options for getting the parts he'd need to fix the truck at that hour, and without a fix I was leary of driving any more than I had to. So bottle of coolant and water at hand, I started back to Oakland. Three or four cycles of drive, overheat, pull off and drive more slowly or stop, wait, then repeat, I got home about 9 or 10 o'clock, exhausted.

And it eventually it hit me that those inklings I'd had about U-Haul's "Adventures in Moving" slogan were spot on. I don't want moving to be an adventure...I want it to be calm, with no surprises. At least not unpleasant ones like multiple hour waits in 100' heat, and a failed trip.


I did meet some interesting people, including a guy trying to bum a cigarette who said he was a roughneck (and certainly looked the part), and a woman who wasn't sure exactly where she was relative to her destination (Clear Lake). But it was hot. Given the cooling problems of the truck, I'd had the AC off for the last 30 minutes.

Today I returned the truck, told them about the problems and waited with them on the phone (they have to wait when talking to the service center, too -- who knew?), and eventually got a van instead of the truck. They're smaller, but the cubic footage would be plenty based on the stats on the U-Haul website. And they looked like they were in a lot better shape. Money refunded for the first truck, discount in hand for the new one, I set off. Though I've helped others use U-Hauls, even helping some people move more than once (hi Pete and Maria!), this was the first time I'd rented one myself. Despite the problems, given the nice people and their handling of the problems, I'd probably do it again.

And as I'd planned to do yesterday, successfully picked up the Quad-Lock from ICBS / Orland Sand and Gravel, and returned, all in less than 6 hours. The van was a lot tighter fit than I would have figured, but unpacking a couple of things from boxes and packing the passenger seat full let me get it all home. Wahoo!

But the extended trip(s) gave me a chance to think, listen to the radio, and put some pieces together about other stuff I've been working on. I do tech and media at church, and have gotten connected to others doing the same through a couple of web sites like Church Media Net. We'll see if anything comes of it, but despite the aggravation of the delays involved, it will probably end up a positive.

1 comment:

Geodog said...

Better you than me, brother. Ouch.