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January 2012

The saga of the cars

December 18th, 2011:

The saga of the cars really began on December 18th. We had driven Deb’s mother’s car (an elderly Elderado) to Rochester where I visited Mayo clinic and then on to Des Moines where we had an early Xmas with Deb’s son Nick and his fiance Stephanie. We then meant to drive back to Highmore on the 18th.

We got as far as Elk Point, South Dakota, when the car died. Elk Point is a small town about 70 miles south of Sioux Falls, which is a large city by South Dakota standards. This was a Sunday. Nothing was open. Finally we got hold of the local sheriff who connected us a 24 towing company. (You know you are in South Dakota when you call the local sheriff for roadside assistance!)

The car was towed to a local shop that would be open Monday. We were dropped off at a local motel – the Bates motel as I recall – where we started making phone calls. Eventually Deb’s Nephew Ryan (he only lived 100 miles away) drove down, picked us up and drove us to Sioux Falls where we rented a car at the airport – a Sonic. Trust me, you don’t want to own a Sonic.

Tuesday we drove back to Elk Point in the Sonic. The fuel pump in the Elderado had died. The local mechanic had ordered a replacement and installed it. His shop, incidently, reminded me mightily of Buffalo Bill’s workshop in Silence of the Lambs.

What with a car rental, trips back and forth to Elk Point, paying for a night at the Bates motel, towing fees, and replacing a fuel pump, the whole thing was, to use a South Dakota term, spendy. We thought it would be good to make sure that our cars were completely road worthy. As a step in this direction I decided to have my dealer perform an obscure recall on Matilda (the Prius).

Interlude – the recall:

There had been a recall on my Prius, something about fixing the nut behind the steering wheel – er, make that fixing something in the steering. According to Toyota bad things could happen if you make a hard left turn. Well, you know me – I never make hard left turns – but one should get these things taken care of. If I understood the guy at the dealer correctingly mine was the only one recalled in the state of South Dakota. Go figure.

Tuesday Dec 27 to Friday, Dec 30 -A visit from afar:

My old friend, Barbara Dumas, came out to visit in the interim between Xmas and New Years. The original thought was that she was going to be there for the wedding. That didn’t quite work out so she made an Xmas season visit instead.

She flew into Sioux falls on the 27th. We drove the 200 miles from Highmore to pick her up and bring her back to Chez Harter. Barb and I resumed our 40 year old arguments about politics. We talked computers, literature, and gossip.

Thursday morning I was sleeping in, so Barb and Deb transported the Prius to the service department. Barb drove the Prius, Deb her Highlander, and they came back in the Highlander. We told the service department we would pick the Prius up Monday.

Friday we drove Barb back down to Sioux Falls to catch her flight back. Pay attention; this is important. We put a quick thousand miles on the Highlander during the visit.

Saturday Dec 31, Sunday Jan 1 – recovery

We crashed, visited Deb’s mother and went to the dump.

Monday Jan 2, 2012

We set out to go to Pierre to retrieve the Prius. Oops. The oil warning light came on in the Highlander. We toddled over to Cenex and had them put three quarts of oil in it. Over to the service department we go. There we find that the battery in the Prius was dead and they were charging it. They were closing early – two hours before the Prius would finish charging. However a friendly chap said he would come back and take of getting it for us.

In the mean time Deb talked to them about the oil loss and about checking on bad things that might happen to her car, such as fuel pumps going and timing belts breaking. They said she probably needed new plugs. They would put those in and check the car. We left the Highlander there and drove the Prius back to Highmore.

Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 – Bad news at Black Rock

Tuesday morning the service department calls. The engine in the Highlander is shot – we can keep running it indfinitely providing we keep putting oil in it. The trade-in value of the Highlander has vanished. It is now a drive until it dies vehicle with some salvage value. Sniff.

We take both cars back to Pierre and drop the Prius off to put in a new battery. We wander around a bit looking at cars and then go home.

Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012

Deb goes to work. We don’t drive to Pierre!

Thursday, Jan 5, 2012

I have a medical appointment in Pierre in the morning. We drive over to Pierre and talk to a nurse practionioner oncologist who, we hope, will be a key player in my local support team. Nice person. I will be conferring with hematologists via teleconferencing.

Off to to see our friends at the service department. The Prius is ready to go home. We look at cars. Deb really likes the 2012 camry LE. After much discussion they let us drive it home instead of the Prius. We drive the Highlander and the Camry back to Highmore.

When we get back we show the car off to Mike and Cheryl. Much oohing and ahing. Mike informs me I’m screwed.

Friday, Jan 6, 2012

Another medical appointment, this time to have a cortisone shot in my knee. I never had one before. All of a sudden my poor painful knee doesn’t hurt. What a wonderful sensation!

Back to the dealer. The Prius is ready to go. However we dicker and deal with the dealer and buy the Camry. We trade the in the Prius as part of the deal. Sniff. I really liked that car. Bye, bye, Matilda.

The Camry is a nice car, roomy, gets good mileage, and has the modern gadgets. We like it.

Saturday, Jan 7, 2012

We say the hell with it and drive back to Pierre to see a movie!

This page was last updated February 1, 2012.

Richard Harter’s World
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January 2012