Last weekend we were traveling in a crabby little ship up the A1(M) to North Yorkshire - as Tony, a new friend in Sutton on the Forest would say, "God's Own Country."
I remember reading in a book last year. "Don't ask a man if he's from Yorkshire. If he hasn't told you in the first minute of meeting you then he obviously isn't from Yorkshire and you shouldn't make him feel inferior."
It's about a three to four-hour drive to York. Driving in England doesn't bother me much. I've got used to driving on the left, so it's not a problem.
I have to say though - I've done 'em all.
It's all become natural for me, but some unexpected things can happen to change your driving nirvana into a freak horror show with no warning.
Last weekend, it was a bank holiday. Just think of it as an official federal holiday in the States. Roads can get packed when everybody has a day off at the same time.
Combine a long drive, a hot day, a bank holiday, with mechanical issues, and you have a recipe that can turn you into a blubbering puddle of goo.
The car we drive in England is possessed with demonic disposition. With no warning, usually on the hottest days of the year, the spawn of Hell will open a vortex to the Lake of Fire. In other words, the air conditioning goes haywire.
It's a computer glitch, and in a traffic jam on a hot day, it is horrible. You can't adjust the temperature; you can try to block the vents, but you can't turn it off.
To make it worse, it only seems to happen when it's a sweltering sunshiney day. The sensors take a day off. It's like driving through the desert with the heater going full blast.
It's fickle too. We don't always know if or when it's going to happen. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. We do know the demons will come-a-callin' at most inconvenient times. Like last summer, when we were driving back from Wensleydale.
Because it was a bank holiday that weekend too, there were more cars on the motorway than there was motorway to hold the cars. The traffic was ambling along with all the urgency of a New Orleans funeral procession. Velocity, shall we say, was lacking.
The minions of Hell opened the vortex.
We stuffed towels, pamphlets, and any debris we could find into the air conditioning vents. The next exit was five miles ahead. In these motorway conditions, that could take forty-five minutes. We thought the forensic team would discover our desiccated bodies on the side of the road, roasted like chickens on a barbecue spit.
We sweated it out and pulled over at the next available services exit. As we stopped, we jumped out of the car like it was on fire to call for an exorcist!
I had a fix, though — a universal fix. I found if I disconnected the battery and let it sit for at least five minutes to reboot the computer, everything would be set right.
The more sophisticated cars get, the more strange and unusual things can go catastrophically wrong. It's like there's a mystery guest under the hood.
Luckily, I've done tech support before. "Okay, pull the plug, let it sit for five minutes, and turn the computer back on." It's a "go-to" script for modems, computers, and in this case, cars.
So I got out the tools, disconnected the battery, and let it sit for at least five minutes while Andrea went into the shop to get a drink and soak up some of their air conditioning. I said a few silent "Our Fathers," Hail Marys," and some "get thee behind me Satans," and started to reconnect the battery.
We were back on the road with the icy air conditioning blasting us in the face. Ahhhhh, the sweet soothing balm was working again.
With a heatwave gripping England, I was worried we'd have a repeat performance again this weekend. The conditions were right. It was supposed to be another scorcher. We were traveling to Yorkshire to do a bit of walking with Jan and Brian and visit with Tony and Susan in Sutton on the Forest in North Yorkshire.
On our drive up, everything was going well.
Then, without warning, hot air started coming out the driver's side air conditioning vents. The passenger side was still frosty.
Andrea (Nav and Coms): "Quick, shut the vents! Battle stations! Test the controls! Run diagnostics! Arrrrrrgggghhh! Watch for Klingons!
Me (pilot): "Damnit, Andrea, I'm a driver, not an air conditioning mechanic."
I shut the vents on the driver's side.
Me: "Aye, Aye, Andrea, Driver's side AC/DC shut down. "Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap!"
Lucky the passenger AC was still working. We could limp along on that like an aircraft with one engine out.
Again, without warning, the passenger vent slapped Andrea in the face with hot air.
Andrea: #)($ O#IP *(()@**$) - translated for this blog, "Oh crap! Check your side!"
Me: "My side's good now, Cap'n."
Andrea: "Quick! Shut all passenger vents! Transfer power to the driver's side!"
Me: "Roger, Wilco!"
A few minutes later. The dilithium crystals stabilized. The transporter was back online, and the warp drive was again available.
Andrea: "Hold it; my side's working again!"
Me: Hey, my side's still working too!"
Andrea: "Stop messing around and drive!"
Me: "Damn, there's no winning here!"
Andrea: "Stop whining and just drive."
We made it to Yorkshire with no further incident and had a lovely weekend.
We had planned to spend a touch more time in York to do some sightseeing. But when we got up to drive home, we didn't want to dilly-dally because the sun was already over the horizon, and it was forecast to be a hot one again. To avoid four hours of sauna therapy on the A1(M), we decide to hit the road early because:
"Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul to waste…
... Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game."
Whooo Whooo, Oh Hell yeah, ain't that true.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
T - 221 DAYS