Today is the seventh day since I regained possession of My McVansion. It was finally discharged from the Heart (Engine) Hospital last Saturday. Since then, I've been driving it around the area to regain confidence in the "heart."
On Monday I drove it to the nearest Walmart with a tire center to have them repair or replace the brand new tire (of two) that I had installed the day before the engine failed. The tire went flat after picking up a load of metal debris on the shoulder of I-405 (or The 405 as they call it out here) just 15 miles from my son's place in Hawthorne. To recap, I drove the van on the interstate shoulder at 10 to 15 mph after the engine failed on the way up the mountain. It was 84 miles from the western side of the mountain to go through the Tejon Pass at 4,200 feet from the San Joaquin Valley into the San Fernando Valley.
The Walmarts don't stock my specific tire and my tire couldn't be repaired, so they ordered it. That required a return visit on Tuesday to have the tire mounted and installed. That went well except they were extremely busy so it took up most of the afternoon. The tire center manager ended up actually mounting, balancing and installing the tire when most of his crew left at the end of their day. One more job done.
Wednesday I drove to the beautiful small town of Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley. It was about an hour drive with mid day traffic. There I met with Sharon Linkletter, the late TV celebrity and entrepreneur, Art Linkletter's daughter. I also met her husband, Art. Yep! Art! But, Linkletter is not his (or Sharon's) last name. For privacy, I won't divulge their last name. They were really terrific folks, very pleasant and unpretentious. Sharon had checked out the blog, read some of it and listened to the recent radio interview. Both she and Art were interested in "the lifestyle." She related some experiences she had with her family and a motorhome they once owned when her kids were younger.
I was delivering a plaque honoring and inducting her father as a member of the Legends of the Professional Speakers fraternity. I also returned some videos she had sent me to use during the presentation ceremony. Someone else accepted the award for her and I thought it had long ago been sent to her along with returning her videos. To my embarrassment, while I was going through the old files for the Veteran Speakers Retreat, an event I coordinated for 12 years, stored at my virtual assistant's home, I found the package that was, inadvertently, never sent. So, I took it upon myself as a final commitment and responsibility of my VSR coordinator tenure, to personally deliver the plaque and videos.
Before I left, both Sharon and Art asked to see My McVansion. Both were very pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and inviting, albeit, compact, it was. And, as I prepared to leave, I received an invitation for a return visit the next time I'm back in the LA area. That was very nice, indeed. And, once again, it's part of the reason I love this lifestyle. I meet amazing and interesting people all the time.
I took the interstate route over to Calabasas to see how the van was going to handle the higher speed driving. On the way back I took it over the mountains with plenty of up and downs and hair pin curves through Topanga Valley. Then along the Pacific Ocean on the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica Pier. Then through stop and go downtown traffic through Santa Monica, Marina Del rey, through the LAX airport traffic and finally down through the aerospace/defense corridor back to Hawthorne. So, My McVansion had a taste of all kinds of driving situations and performed flawlessly. But, to be honest, I'm still babying her.
Thursday, I took the van to another auto service facility recommended by the "Head Heart (Engine) Surgeon" to have the front end of the van checked and make sure it was still in alignment. I had hit some serious road hazards/obstacles driving on the shoulder limping into Los Angeles. I didn't want to end up with undo wear on the older front tires of the van. So, Marco, at Song's Alignment and Auto Repairs, did the job.
He made some adjustments and showed me where my front disk brake pads were getting very (almost dangerously) worn. He estimated about 10% of life left on the current pads. So, in a few minutes, I'll be heading over to have the rotors resurfaced and new pads installed.
With everything complete, I'll take care of a few final things at my son's place and one last bit of business with him at his office. Then, I'll be ready to leave the Los Angeles area for Palm Springs, California after 61 days. This has been both an adventure and an expensive misadventure. All part of the lifestyle. More to come.