Moving 200+ miles away from your boyfriend will definitely help you put lots and lots of miles on your car. On long weekends I would count down the hours until I would make my escape from Westwood to get directly trapped on the 405 north with all the other millions trying to get out of Los Angeles as well. On good days the traffic broke when I hit the 101, on bad days it only got worse when I hit the 101. Doing the drive was like a long swim or even a run. I would start of energized, excited, thrilled to be on my way. And then those feelings ebbed as I would settle into the drive. I'd get in that zone, the one that scares me now to think about it, the zone where I just drive and the things I pass don't really register in my consciousness. I perk up a bit when I hit Santa Barbara, the halfway point. And then, it would feel like I was "soooo close" for the rest of the drive and yet I still had a ways to go. Finally, the last couple miles the excitement would return again and I would forget that I was tired. A big hug was always waiting for me on the other side the door making the long drive worth all the while.
To pass time on the drive I would chat on the phone with Lukas (this was before the cell phone law). The miles I put on my car have added up with all my trekking up and down the coast. I was heading back to L.A. when my odometer was nearing 100,000 miles. Jokingly I feigned fear of hitting this "mile stone" to Lukas over the phone. "I'm afraid my car's just going to quit when I reach 100,000. It'll just stop in the road, my wheels will fall off, and that will be it." Maybe I had jinxed myself.
North of Santa Barbara I noticed my car was pulling to the right. At first I didn't think much of it. My car had been pulling to the right for a little while, not horribly, but it wasn't quite going straight. But as I continued on my way I was noticing more and more that this was pulling more than just a tiny bit off. I was having to keep my steering wheel turned about 20 degrees just to keep the car going straight. At the Gaviota rest stop I pulled over to use the bathroom and then got back in the car without checking it out. It was dark and I didn't want to linger. But, the pulling was as bad as ever when I was back on the highway. I immediately pulled over at the next exit - an unlit over-look. I was kicking myself for not checking my car out at the rest stop where at least there were lights and semi-visibility from the highway. Now I was at a dark over-look that was blocked by a little hill from the highway at about 10:30 at night.
I got out and checked my car. The right front tire was flat, really really flat. Back in the car I called AAA. It took about 5 minutes to explain to the call operator exactly where I was. After that I kept Lukas on the phone while I waiting for the tow-truck. I didn't have to wait long and the tow-truck guy was quick and helpful. With the donut tire on my car I was told not to go over 50 mph. I started off slowly and heard a weird noise and quickly pulled over on the side of the road. I was starting to call Lukas to ask what he thought I should do when the tow-truck guy pulled up behind me. I hung up the call as he was walking to my car and rolled down my window. "Something wrong?" he asked. I told him about the sound and he checked out the tired, giving it a couple kicks. "Looks good to me, but you did the right thing. Just take it easy and pull over again if you hear the noise again." Gingerly, I pulled back on the road and kept it well under 50mph while he followed behind me. I felt reassured that he was back behind me. I didn't hear the sound again and after a few miles of the sloooow driving the tow-truck guy took off.
Since I had to keep it under 50mph I had the "genius" idea of putting it on cruise control. Moments after turning on the cruise control my car had a fit. All the gages on the dashboard stopped working, the lights came on and off inside. I pulled off at the next exit and into a patch of dirt on a dark road next to some field. I'd only had my hood up a minute or so when I sheriff's car pulled in along side me. The young sheriff couldn't have been any older than me and it became evident quickly that he didn't have much more knowledge than me about how cars work. On his suggestion, we checked the oil but that was fine and I really didn't think it was that. Certainly seemed more electrical than "oil", but what do I know? What scared me was now that my gages weren't working how was I going to tell if I went over 50mph? And if I went over 50mph I could blow up my little spare tire. "Sorry I couldn't be of more help," the sheriff apologized. When I asked if he thought there was a mechanic open he replied, "There's not much in Carp." Carp?! Where the heck was I? Looking bewildered I asked, "Where are we?" He chuckled at me a little and said, "Carpenteria." Oh.
So with my options being finding a motel with an open front desk to get a room for the night or giving the drive another shot I decided to keep trying to get to L.A.. My car still drove and if I was careful I'd keep it under 50mph. Worried as I was that wasn't going to be a problem. Several miles down the road my gauges came back and I could monitor my speed again. It was a tense ride the rest of the way, but I made it. So, did I jinx myself? Somewhere before the flat tire my car turned over 100,000 miles and then things started to go down hill. So maybe I did.