The Puppies of Lincoln County

I must be getting old.  Or soft.  Hmmmm. I don't think that is even in question.  I am getting soft. And old.  I just mention this because in the past couple of years I have had a surprising number of what I call "puppy moments" - moments that are like the happy climax in a Frank Capra movie or like some Coca-Cola TV commercial from the 70s where a kid is lying on the floor and is being overrun by 8 or 9 beautiful, fluffy Saint Bernard puppies.  Thus "Puppy Moments".  For a chronic depressive, these are like huge diamonds or truffles!

Saturday didn't start out with any puppies in view.  Granted, I was having a grand time as a worker on the annual No Alibi rally.   I drove out through the first section and totally enjoyed the back roads Eric had found. My first checkpoint was at a cattle guard and seemed pretty obvious.  So I drove the WRX over the rise to try to hide it and took up a position behind a bush about 100 yards away on the driver's side (to see if I could keep Max Vaysburd from spotting me).  But somehow I couldn't resist leaving my little chair and a bright orange Yaesu ball cap at the cattle guard.  I figured it would  give Max and Ron Sorem something to talk about.

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Checkpoint 4F

37 rally cars and 37 minutes later, Jeff and Marvin rolled by in the scoring car.  I handed them my checkpoint log, and I jumped in the WRX. Mark Nolte and Sally rolled by and I pulled out to follow them down the hill

As we headed down the remaining gravel roads of the section, I thought I heard a little vibration. Yup, as we rolled out on pavement it was there, and I could make the noise come and go by revving somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 RPM. I got on the radio to Mark and puzzled it out. I was thinking it was maybe a piece of gravel stuck in a heat shield or something...

I wasn't sure how concerned I should get right off. Noise aside, the car seemed to be running fine. Power good, not missing, temperature and oil pressure just fine. In anticipation of No Alibi, I had gone ahead and had the 90K service done ahead of schedule and had the timing belt and a bunch of idlers/tensioners replaced at Smart Service in Shoreline. But, but....

Outside of Davenport the noise started to get a bit louder. And to make matters more complicated, the weather started to get more complicated. I was driving through a rain squall when I looked in the rear-view mirror to see a semi rig bearing down on me just as the WRX started to really miss and lose power. I turned on the 4-way flashers and thought about pulling on to the narrow shoulder when I concluded that I would just get killed by some other semi if I did that. I saw a driveway a little ways up the road so I nursed the car along the shoulder and pulled in. The WRX sighed and stopped.

I have to say that for a few moments there I was feeling pretty distressed. Two hundred crow miles away from home, dead car, no AAA (I told myself in may that I should sign up!) and no cell phone reception. I slowly got out of the car and figured I would carefully approach the house at the end of the driveway to see if I could use the phone to call.....somebody.

If you must pick a driveway in Davenport

Over to the left I saw a couple of horses and as I got closer to the house I saw a woman moving some tack into the back of a Suburban. I stood off a bit and said "Hello! Hi! I'm the idiot that owns the dead car that is blocking your driveway!" I didn't really say that as the car wasn't really blocking the driveway, but I said something close. I said something like "Do you know anybody local who does flatbed towing?" And the lady said "Yeah, my brother does. Let's go in the house and call him. Oh and by the way don't mind the mud on your shoes and my name is Jo and this is my daughter Libby and my son Clay".

Long story short, Jo says "Heck, let's put your car on the trailer and I'll drive you to Seattle.". I said "No way, you are not serious", but Jo said "I'll call my Dad to get the Powerstroke and he can take the Suburban and we'll trailer your Subaru to Seattle". Seriously. What could I say? No? No Way!

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Jo, Empress of Davenport

Jo is the E911 coordinator for the county and nobody's fool. She lets me know that she just needs to check me for priors before we roll. I'm happy to have my ID run. I think "Now there's a woman who's thinking!". Plus I figure it will tell me if the Witness Protection Program really works! Anyhow, I'm not quite believing what is going on so I stand around  like a dummy for a bit with Clay and with Libby, perhaps the cutest young woman in all of Washington State. Libby informs me that she has been to Disneyland and enjoyed it very much, thank you. She then informs me that "I was 8 weeks old" (at the time of the visit). Or maybe 8 months old :)

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Supervisor Libby

About 20 minutes later Jo's Mom and Dad roll up the drive in the red Powerstroke and all sorts of stuff starts happening.....

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The Powerstroke F250 Hooks up

Jo's Dad and the crew go to work like they do this every Saturday. To make things go quicker, they have arranged to host two very nice exchange students, Tae Gu from South Korea and Santiago from Venezuela, to help push strange people's cars onto their trailer.

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Tae Gu hams it up. The "Push Here" stickers come in handy

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Jo, Mom, Libby, and "Bronco" supervise.

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Clay cranks a tie down and gets some lessons from the master, his Granddad.

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Tae Gu and Santiago.  We do this all the time! We're the pros from Dover!

And thus it came to pass.....

...that Jo and Clay drove Jim and his sad Subaru to Shoreline. Libby wisely decided that this was the time to grab some quality time with her grandmother. She was probably thinking "I have heard all of this guy's boring stories before! King County Jail, Belgian nuns! Blech!"

Yes, I pulled out any and all boring stories on the way back, but Jo and Clay were very tolerant. Along the way I did discover some very important things. For one, Clay can read out pi to 10+ decimal places from memory. For another, both of us have read Runner by Carl Deuker. Runner is set in Ballard around Shilshole and even has a guest appearance by Kim at Walter's Cafe on Sunset Hill.

Jo's man Kevin, presently at Fort Dix waiting to head to Afghanistan, called 2 or 3 times during the trip to Shoreline to make sure I wasn't causing trouble. And I heard back later that Jo and Clay had a great drive back to Davenport. A nice outing. Am I ever thankful that Jo likes outings!

For my East Coast family and correspondents

It would be good to put this in to some perspective relative to our ancestral turf.  Imagine for a second that our silver '65 Mercury wagon broke down in a driveway in Middlebury Vermont or Newark, New Jersey... and that the head of that household just walks up and says "Hey, let's just push your station wagon up on our trailer and I'll haul you back to Boston!"  You'd say you were dreaming, wouldn't you?