Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

I've been planning the trip to Houston for knee surgery for over a month.  All plans were in motion,
but somehow the Universe was not in agreement.

We (my son and I) headed out on time Thursday morning at 7:30AM.  Estimated time of arrival
at the border was to be nine hours later.  The cooler was packed with food along with suitcases packed for staying in Texas for three months.  One carry on suitcase was packed with gifts for grand kids. 

It was a unique experience because 99% of the time, I am driving alone.  However this time my son was adamant that he was going to go with me as far as Laredo and then take the bus back to San Miguel.  I acquiesced thinking it would be nice to have company and time to talk.

About two hours into the trip, we hit MAJOR road construction which had Hwy 57 down to one lane for a long, long time.  It took us one and a half hours of idling, slowly crawling along and finally we got through it.  Us and about 300 long haul trucks plus cars of course.

We hit the midway point, Matehuala in six hours.  It usually takes four and half.  We sighed and said that we would definitely not make it to the border in nine hours which is typical.

Little did we know what was getting ready to happen.  We bypassed Matehuala and about thirty minutes north, the car went from normal on the heat index to HOT.......that fast.  We immediately pulled over as soon as we could.  It was where a young man was selling honey and there was a very rudimentary house there.  This is desolate, desert country.  Obviously we were not the first car to overheat as he came with a big bucket and water.  He and my son spent the next thirty minutes getting
the car cooled down to the normal range.

In the meantime, we had talked and said we needed to go back to Matehuala where there is a motel that we have stayed in in the past 20 years and they could help us with a mechanic.  It took us
an hour of repeating the water on the radiator, and sitting on the side of the road til the car cooled down as a gazillion 18 wheelers went roaring by us.  (I'm not exaggerating)

We did get to Las Palmas.  I was quite a sight as I went into the lobby and told the man I hoped he had a room and a good car mechanic.  He instantly called the mechanic and then got a room for us.

The mechanic was there in thirty minutes.  He worked til dark and we all hoped that what he had done fixed it.  Unfortunately when we left the next day we only got thirty miles down the road, heading back to SMA, before the car overheated again.  John called the mechanic and we limped back to the motel, met the mechanic, and got our old room back.  We hoped we could still leave that day as it was now only 8:30AM.  It was not to be.  More major work.  The car was ready by 3PM, but we were not willing to take a chance of going back and getting caught in construction traffic again and having to drive in the dark.  It's a good thing we did not try.


We DID leave yesterday morning.  All was well.  We DID get to the construction traffic going south, but by some miracle or blessing, they diverted a few of us onto the road heading northbound and we zoomed by stopped traffic heading south for about thirty minutes!  Oh thank heavens that we were not in that again.


We DID arrive in San Miguel yesterday with no problems.  H alleluia.  I have thanked my son over and over for being there and taking care of that mess.  I am at his house in his guest room until I can reschedule things with the doctor's office as there was no way for me to get there by the appointment time of Monday morning at 9:55AM  Once the preliminary appointment was cancelled, that also cancelled the surgery as they need nine days before meeting, tests and then surgery.  It is what it is.

You may wonder why we came back here and did not go forward to the border.  Well, we both were not confident about the car.  Plus, the area north of Matehuala is very mountainous along with being very desolate.  No way  did I want us to be stranded in that area.  It's several hours from Matehuala to Monterrey......Then there was the concern about me driving back in the car alone in May.  Nope, is not going to happen.  I'll fly from now on.

I put close to 150,000 miles on the previous car driving all over Mexico, but this episode has changed my mind radically about driving alone anymore.  Drat!  I SO love road trips.

The other thing is that the money I had set aside for Houston has gone to the back insurance premiums and now repair to the car.  I need to regroup............

It will ALL work out.  I'm so grateful for my son being with me; for the fact that we were near somewhere where we could stay safe and secure; and that we made it back here, safe and sound.

I'm telling you, you can think you've planned well, that you have everything under control, but guess what, that is not always true!  The best laid plans can definitely go awry as these have.

Who knows what will be the future plans?  It certainly is true that "Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all".  This one was a doozy. 


Retired Teacher said...

Thank goodness your son was with you. That would have been an even more harrowing experience if you had been by yourself.

Barbara Lane said...

So glad John was with you! I know you are as well. This is, as I say, giving God room to finger paint. While we may think it sucks, all timing is Divine. You and John are safe, that's all that really matters.

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Good grief! Glad you made it back in one piece. Regroup indeed!

Steve Cotton said...

I think it was Anne LaMott who said: "If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans." I am glad you are laughing.

Babs said...

Thanks Bill. I think my son, John, is getting tired of me saying "Thank goodness you were with me!" Indeed it was harrowing and not something I intend to ever repeat. I've always been fearless, but those 18 wheelers zooming by us were darn scary.

Barbara, you hit the nail on he head with your last sentence. Truly, that is all that matters!

Peter, that experience took the starch out of me. I barely moved yesterday and I'm usually a bevy of activity. Maybe I'll get back in the groove today...or this week.

Steve, what else can I do? I think I'm laughing or smirking or something out of relief. I told John when we got to his house that I felt like getting out and kissing the ground!

R. P. said...

Keep on truckin' Babs.
"I've been down so long that down don't worry me...."
Billie Holiday - Stormy Blues

Croft said...

OMG Barbara! These things happen with vehicles but yours seems to be fixed now. I would not give up on doing what you love just because of a little setback. Maybe let your son use the car if he has to go somewhere untilyou are both confident it is really fixed.

Babs said...

Good point, Croft. The week before I had the mechanic that I have used for 15 years go over the car and check everything. Changed the spark plugs, etc and I do this before every trip to be safe. He is the person who kept my previous car in tip top shape....

I do know the previous owner of this car had not taken any long road trips in this car I have now. Maybe that had something to do with it..........who knows? But, it sure was
a shock to me, obviously.

Thanks for the suggestion Croft.

Babs said...

Thanks RP - "flyin'" is probably more like it in the future!

Phyllis Perry said...

Thank you! Your positive outlook is an inspiration!

crynoutloud said...

Hola Babs,

I was at Las Palmas Wednesday night on our way home to Chicago. Parts of that Mexican desert are hell on earth. It got up to 94 degrees that day.
We had a similar experience a few years ago. Headed out from Matehuala to Ajijic about 15 miles our car broke down. We limped in to a Mechanico who replaced the fuel filter. Drove on and the car broke down again. We begged a man who was delivering water to help us. Me and the dog rode in the back of his little Toyota pickup helping him deliver jugs of water. He had a strap and towed us back to town to a good Mechanic whose name was Manuel. (the name means sent from God) My wife lost confidence in the car and we went home.
Now I write down every roadside emergency number that I see. My Mexican Insurance has roadside help number. I get a Mexican phone. I try to stay on the toll roads which have SOS phones every mile.
Obviously there was a higher power that did not want you to have that operation at this time.

Babs said...

Phyllis, thank you but until this morning, I was in a deep funk about all of this. Now the surgery is rescheduled and onward, I can go.......

Crynoutloud. Good grief, we almost "passed in the night". We awere at Las Palmas by about 2:30!!!
I keep the Green Angels # on a piece of paper in my car. They came to my rescue once when the front light was falling out, which was not a BIG deal, but.......I always have a Mexican phone and am on toll roads, if there are toll roads.....

I have now rescheduled the surgery for mid-April. That is the soonest that they can get me in! Onward. I'm SO grateful my son was with overheating are my nemesis. Thankfully, I've always found good mechanics and I knew that Las Palmas would know one, which they did. He is THE car repair mechanic for the hotel that they call. This man disassembled that car methodically and never gave up! Hallelujah.

gringosuelto said...

It's odd that the mechanic couldn't solve the overheating problem on the first go. Normally overheating problems are quite simple, either a leak in the cooling system, or a clogged radiator or stuck thermostat. Yes, there can be other causes, but the above is the vast majority. Of more concern, overheating an engine can cause permanent damage that's not immediately visible. I'd keep a close eye on it. Check the oil regularly to make sure there's not water in it. (If the oil looks milky or foamy, you have a problem.) And keep checking the coolant level for a while too so to make sure it's not leaking.

I'm sorry you are having so many setbacks with this. Hopefully the next go will run flawlessly.


Kim G
Redding, CA
Where the summer really puts cooling systems through their paces. And then some.

lauriec said...

Hi Barbara, wow what a time you had - as others have said , so glad it wrked out and that yiur son was with you,,I’ve bien on that road and its a scary place to break down

perhaps wevwill see you in the Jardin or even meet for coffee as am now in San Miguel

Best to you

Chapel Hill

Babs said...

Laurie C - Send me an email at . I would love to meet ya
'll. I'm here til the end of the month, sort of, then flying to Tx on the 27th to do the deed!

Babs said...

Hi Kim. Thanks for your suggestions! The first thing the mechanic did was change the thermostat. I don't remember what the second thing was but, as my son said, it was not for is done and lastly it was taking the car apart and taking the radiator to be cleaned. We were totally satisfied with his work and his price.....and he did not leave us in the lurch, which was major. Very nice man.

My next mode of getting to Texas is a major the end of March. Hopefully all the snafus are OVER!