Thursday, March 12, 2009

tiny little drifter

13 miles outside of sunny Santa Cruz we pull over to the side of the winding highway, 17 South. Our persnickety van is steaming and the temp gauge is all the way to HOT. We gotta pull over or we'll destroy the engine.

highway drifters

I pop the hood as cars speed by and green radiator juice is dripping from every part of the engine. It's not a pretty sight. But having had a little experience with van things and touring, I know this is something that we can overcome with a few items that we have stowed away in the van for this exact situation.

I grab coolant fluid from inside the van and once the radiator has cooled I dump in the half-gallon of glowing green juice. It's enough to keep the engine cool.

After this I pull out our trusty tube of JB Weld which is designed to patch weird metal holes, like if your radiator springs a leak. It's an amazing product. I apply it to the hole, it sets up to the hot surface in about five minutes.

I crank up the van. The temp gauge settles at the middle. We roll down 17 South and the temp gauge recedes to the cold mark so I know we're ok. We happily hit the club about 30 minutes after the break down and as we speak with Adam the owner of Crepe Place, he begins his search for a mechanic.

We sound check. Adam seats us for dinner and hands me a number to call in the a.m. Later, after the show, he hands me another number. "This guy's a friend and he'll do it for free," he says.

First thing this morning about nine I call Adam's friend Nate. He calls me back an hour later and we agree to meet at one. We head to his house after a hang at the beach and some local coffee houses. He is not your typical mechanic--young easy going educated liberal arts type. The kinda chap who knows how to run his car on veggie oil. His white 1966 Volvo station wagon sits in the driveway beside his house. He modestly boasts of how it can get up to 85 without shaking.


He solders the leaky seam near the top of the radiator. We put some more JB Weld on it. Bill, Anna and Karen hang out on the curb in the Cali sun. The patch sets up a bit and we head off with a handshake and he is happy to have our new album on vinyl.

Once we reach the auto parts store about 10 minutes away radiator fluid is spewing all over the engine again. We find a mechanic who will have us back on the road by tomorrow afternoon. After we agree on a price to weld the hole shut, he gives us a ride, sleeping bags and all back to the house where we stayed last night.

sad drifter

We walk down to the beach after some tacos. It's sunny and peaceful. The season has not yet kicked in. There are worse places to have a break down.

happy drifter

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