Day Ten. Glimmer of Hope.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 17:46

I got my car back. It's sitting in the lot at the Fairfield Inn & Suites of West Des Moines, IA, my temporary home for these last EIGHT days. For those who are keeping track, NO I wasn't charged any more at BMW for the work they did on my car. YES, I think they goofed up this whole thing and possibly missed a leaky hose and replaced too many other things, then realized the mistake when it was too late. I say this because there is a part that they didn't charge me for and that was a hose that was added when they re-installed the second air intake mass meter.

This was also acknowledged by CHAD of Beckyley Automotive Service. Chad is fantastic. His shop is where I SHOULD have brought my car in the first place. They know the dealer shop run-around and pricing and I know they would have figured out the problems right up front. Chad looked at my repair invoices and thought they seemed a bit fishy, but it's too late to make a big stink, as it were. Let's just move on, shall we?

That said, I did what I could do with the info at hand. Thank you to Rich for guiding me to find an independent service person. It really gave me piece of mind to have a second opinion on the repairs and another set of eyes to look over the car and make sure it is road worthy again. Also, fwiw, between Beckley's guy's and my own, dear Gary of Newtown Car Care (who called me today to see how I was doing!), they agree that I need to restore the engine back to its' original state and remove the K&N air filter and go back to stock. The K&N is notorious for ruining air intake mass meters. Food for thought. Probably the reason why the car may have failed in the first place.

Chad and his staff were very impressed with the condition of the car, found nothing wrong, gave it a road test and blessed it as much as they could-considering once I put big miles on the car, that will really be the test.

Other than the fact that I slept about an hour last night and got food poisoning today, I'm doing OK. I just want to go home. I want to sleep in my own bed. I even miss my obnoxious cats. I don't miss my boring life and I have enjoyed meeting so many very nice, caring people. It was a big added bonus to see Shelby and Paul and Trevor again. It certainly took the edge off of feeling like I didn't really HAVE a vacation.

I'm sincerely sorry that I never got to Nevada. Even if I left tomorrow, there's blizzard and snow warnings very near west of here. It's too late in the season to pass through the Rockies. I'll point myself home this time and hope to make it out west one day when they invent Transporters or I find a good drug to get me through flying to Reno.

I'm really really sad and feel like a failure. I did my best. Time to pack up and hit the road for home.

I'm Following You

Day Ten. Here Goes Nothing.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 12:02

I'm going to drop off the rental and get my car back. I'm assured it was road tested all the way to Ames, IA last night. Of course, I don't believe them so I'm taking it to CHAD, the independent repair guy.

Let's see what Chad has to say, eh?

Tentative schedule: LEAVE FOR HOME TOMORROW MORNING!!!!!!

Wish me luck!

Day Nine. The Drake Diner. Woohoo!

Submitted by Robin Olson on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 20:38

Ahhhh...I feel like I'm on vacation. I found a diner! Apparently, Des Moines is NOT rife with diners. I managed to find one about 9 miles from here. It's called The Drake Diner and it's fancy, neon-y and clean-y. Woo!

2008-10-21 18:21:59 -0500

I felt good vibes from this place, especially because on the clock above the front door, it reads: "Don't Worry."

When I entered the grand palace of a diner, I was greeted by a friendly gentleman who escorted me to a big booth. He quickly got me not just a cup of hot water and crummy tea, but a small pot of water, a tea bag, a cup of hot water, lemon and then made sure to get me honey and a spoon! I felt like I was at a SPA!

2008-10-21 18:27:26 -0500

I told the waiter I'd never been there before. He said they've been around for 21 years, but he forgave me since I LIVE IN CONNECTICUT!!!!!!! I told him I wanted to make sure I got something that really showcased their diner and I saw they had a MEATLOAF CLUB sandwich. He told me that it was great and that it was the sort of meatloaf that is perfect for a sandwich, but not so good for a hot plate. He said to get an open roast beef if I was gonna go that route.

So I opted for the "signature" meatloaf. He suggested I try the onion "rings," too, so I said; "SURE!"

2008-10-21 18:29:01 -0500

Do I even have to tell you how good this was? It was terrific! Meatloaf is not always very good, unless I make it, of course. This was da bomb! Hot, delicious, not rubbery, just nice mellow flavors. The onion stack was slightly sweet and peppery. I enjoyed it very much!

The waiter suggested I try their "signature" chocolate cake, which, what woman would say NO to that? Okay, I said; "To go, please!" And no, there is no photo, as I am eating it while I type. It's moist and heavy, not too sweet and slightly tangy. Yum!

All in all, I'm sorry I didn't go there sooner, but I may have breakfast there tomorrow...on my way OUT OF TOWN????

Stay tuned, my lovelies, stay tuned!

Day Nine. Where There's Smoke...there's MORE SMOKE!

Submitted by Robin Olson on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 20:21


Seems that an electrical short in my bedside lamp last night, followed by the excruciating fire alarm blast this morning just wasn't the end of the drama! While I was innocently writing my BLOG, in the room used for our crappy breakfast (e.g., CBR=crappy breakfast room), I looked up and across the room I saw SMOKE billowing out of the toaster. I'm not talking about wispy, fairy-wing smoke. I mean SMOKE!!!!

A woman was sitting right NEXT to the bloody toaster, but must have been deafened by her FOUR screaming kids. I called out to her; "Are you toasting bread?!!"

In a coma, she mumbled; "No."

She didn't even get up or do a thing, so I walked across the room and flipped up the switch on the toaster, revealing two very charred english muffin remains.

Meanwhile, the plume of smoke had hit the ceiling and was quickly spreading across the room. I left to tell the clerk at the Front Desk that there was a possible problem and he joined me, saying he used to be a volunteer fireman in southern Iowa.

He got the doors propped open to relieve the smoke, then marveled that the alarm didn't even go off and this morning, the smoke was much less AND it came from the SAME TOASTER.

Needless to say, the toaster is off to the toaster graveyard and has been replaced. Tomorrow we will have shiny new toast!

Oh my GOD. I'm excited that "WE" got a new toaster...oh no...AND..they installed a T-1 in the hotel today, too. Huh.

Maybe I'll stay in Des Moines a few more days?

What the...? I just heard the lamp "bzzzzzzt!" again! Oh shit!

Day Nine. Ground Hog's Day.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 11:46

Good Morning, Sunday

I'm still in Des Moines. I'm wondering if I'll ever leave. In theory, the part for my car arrived this morning and they're installing it fairly soon. In reality, wait and see.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful. I dragged myself out of here and went for a stroll in the mall and saw a movie; "Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist."
The theater, itself, was great! For $6. they have stadium seating and actual FOOD and beverages, not just junk. I was able to score a cup of Tazo Tea and the popcorn was fresh and tasted great.

The movie started at 2:55pm and there were about 5 other people in the theater with me. I like to go to the movies and going alone, though not ideal, was just fine. The story of Nick & Nora's was fast paced, goofy, funny, over-the-top and delightful. It didn't tax my mental resources or teach me something about the world, but it was enjoyable and I was smiling as the credits began to roll. The only bittersweet part was that the movie takes place in Manhattan. When I saw the images of the city appear on the screen, my heart sank. I whispered; "Home!" It made me feel relieved to see it was still there. Weird, I know.

After the movie, I went for a walk. There's an Apple store here so it will tell you how fantastic the mall is! Of course, I hit the shop and asked them about the ever-elusive iPhone adapter. Of course, they don't have them. Now I've tried in CT, Chicago and Des Moines to get a new adapter. Those damn things got recalled and they didn't make a big enough batch of replacements to cover all the folks that bought the phones. It's not a big deal because I can charge my phone through my powerbook, but the fact that every time I ask, I always get the same, cutesy reply: "Oh, we just ran out of them! If you go online, you can order one and get it in a few days." Guess I will take the hint.

The remainder of the Mall was pretty much like any place else, but it was very clean had FRESH AIR (our mall in Danbury gives us "mall poisoning" after a few hours and we get really sleepy from the lack of fresh air). There were couples walking around and families with little kids playing in a central courtyard playground. They have glow-in-the-dark mini-golf! I started to feel very lonely, no surprise.

2008-10-21 09:53:00 -0500

I checked out Dillard's. I've never been in one before. It was like Macy's only their buyer might be better and the place, again, was pristine, well lit and organized. Maybe I should move here? The people are really nice, too. Every single person I've met is salt-of-the-earth. Huh. Doesn't feel like a lot of sharp edges. Even the driver's aren't so bad.

Last night, I was ready to hit the pillow. The lights were off. I started to fall asleep. Just as I was closing my eyes I heard a "bzzzzzzzzzzzt!" then saw a spark shoot off the lamp next to the bed.

Needless to say, I got up, turned on a different lamp and investigated the situation. Since it was so late, I just unplugged the lamp and clock next to it and went back to bed, promising to tell the Front Desk Clerk about it in the morning.

Guess the wiring here leaves something to be desired. Around 6:30am the fire alarm went off throughout the building. Instead of some sort of blaring horn, the sound was literally a sharp piercing screech. It was deafening.

I jumped out of bed, put my flip flops on, grabbed my coat and room key and went out into the hall. A few other folks were looking out their doorways, trying to assess if they should leave. I didn't hear sirens or see people fleeing from the building, so I stayed put and waited while my ears bled.

After a few minutes the siren shut off. I sat on my bed, in my coat, my heart about to explode, ready to leave. I looked out the window and didn't see the fire dept. show up, so I figured it was a false alarm.

I didn't have dinner last night so I got some clothes on and went downstairs for the freebie, awful breakfast. Since I'm not sure what to do today, I'm doing another small load of laundry and I got my room straightened up IN CASE I HAVE TO LEAVE TOMORROW. I'd like to go back to bed, but I can nap any time! Ugh...the life of luxury, not!

Chris, who works nights here, has been really great. Last night he extended my stay and cut the rate to as low as he could. He's saving me about $25/night and that really helps. Thanks Chris! I hope to help you out by finding you a job up in Minneapolis!

I guess I'll call BMW and ask them if the part arrived. I'm not sure I want to know the answer...

Day Eight. Fu@ked Up the Butt.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 15:29

Apparently, somehow, some way, the Intake Air Mass Meter, which was replaced on Friday, failed on Saturday and has to be replaced AGAIN. This would have been not so bad IF they had LOOKED at my car on SATURDAY, when I had it towed into the shop, but no, they didn't look at it until today, found the failed part and now we wait until tomorrow for the part to arrive.


So do I spend $1200 to trailer my car back and spend $800 to fly home? It takes two weeks for the car to arrive so there'll be the expense of a rental, too. I called my insurance agent and there is no coverage for loss of use because there was no accident.

I asked; "So if I get pushed off the road by a semi-truck and into a ditch, I'm covered."

"Yep, no problem"

"and if I die, I'm covered."

"Sure if you have life insurance, but you don't have that with us, would you like to talk about adding that?"

"No thanks. Maybe later."

"Well have a nice day!"

"and fu@k you very much, too!"


Also, I just realized I'm starting to decorate my hotel room to make it more homey. Fu@k!

My Companions

Day Eight. Des Moines, Again, Unnaturally.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 12:42


I'm STILL in Des Moines. Anyone want to fly out and drive back home with me? I sure could use the company. I'll pay for your flight! driving would mean I have a car. I don't. Not a word from BMW. It's 10:30am. They've had the car since Saturday, but no working hours yesterday, of course.

I still feel really tired. I woke up a few times during the night with my stomach in a knot. I was thinking about what will come to pass today. It's D-day. I'm assuming the car will be "done" at some point and I'm going to stay here until tomorrow to have time to drive around town and see if the car may behave for awhile.

I'm going to turn tail and go home. I can't take the stress any more and even though I KNOW I can rent a car, leave mine here, drive to Reno, then drive it back, then get my car and drive home, that does not appeal to me at all. The rental can break down, too and yes, I know they will replace it with another car, will they HAVE rental cars in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming or Utah? I'm sorry, but I'm not up for putting myself at risk, too. If I had a break down, I would be on my own and who knows what sort of "helpful" stranger will come to my rescue.

I know I can fly there and leave my car here. I know I can take a train from Ottumwa or Osceola. I can probably get some sort of bus, walk, wagon train. I want to go home. I'm done. I failed. I don't care. I just want this to be over. I'll re-group and figure out how to get out to Reno another day.

Day Seven. Come & Go.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 12:24

Really can't say more about this...\
Another morning, another trip to The Machine Shed, another gut-buster breakfast. You'd think I'd learn something from all these painful eating experiences, but no, no. I learned nothing.

Machine Shed Interior

We got cinnamon and pecan rolls, as big as Paul's head! It took me two days to eat mine!

Welcome to Paul's pecan roll

Check out my big buns

Shelby had packed up and was ready to go so after breakfast we had a tearful good-bye and she headed back to Shakopee to be with her family. I didn't expect to feel as badly as I did, but when she left it hit me hard. I did my best to not show it. Shelb and I had some very good conversations and it helped give me some perspective on my life. I'm literally at a crossroads about what I want to do and how I want to make changes and what those might be. While I was comforted by her being here, I was equally crushed when she had to go. There was so much more to talk about. We were just getting started. Her leaving meant a return to dealing with the scary realization of being alone again.

Shortly after Shelby left, Paul left, too.

Feeling down and tired, I just went back to bed, where I stayed for most of the day. It was a lovely day outside, but I didn't care. I had to decide if I'm going to press on and continue my trip or go back home. No matter what I choose, it will make someone sad. No matter what I choose, I will be sad, too.

Day Six. Reunion.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 12:06

Shelby got in last night and it was surreal to see her. Here we were in Des Moines, having a spontaneous girlie (plus guy) weekend. Her arrival meant I could forget about my problems for awhile and just saok up a few laughs.

Since she got in late, (a long drive after working all day!), we got into our jammies and just chatted and laughed, "accidently" chirped off a few, umm, bodily noises, then tried to go to sleep. We stayed up until about 1:30 AM just being silly. It was like we were back to being roomates again.

The following morning, we waited for the tow truck to arrive to pick up my car. Shelb drove us over to the dealer, where I picked up my new rental—a 2009 CTS-V Cadillac! It's definitely not what I'm used to driving, but heck, it has a cushy ride and lots of buttons and bells that confuse and delight. I figure I don't have to learn all the controls since the car will be gone on Monday, right? Hmmmm...

After getting the car thing worked out and finding out "well, we probably won't even get to your car today," we headed out for breakfast at The Machine Shed, a local chain themed with farmer decor and farm-fresh foods. We both got saucer-eyed when looking at the menu. It had pork chops, bacon, sausage and egss, steak and eggs, hash browns with cheese and onions, bacon stuffed waffles. How could we go wrong?

The Machine Shed, Des Moines, IA

I guess EATING everything we ordered would be where we went wrong. about gut-bomb of delight. We were certainly rolling out of our booth after our meal.

I checked in with Paul and he was due to arrive fairly soon, so we went back to the hotel to expand while we waited. Shelby saw Paul's car pull into the parking lot. We watched him go back and forth from the trunk to the backseat 4 or more times. He ended up not bringing any of his bags into the hotel, after all that monkeying around. We were giggling madly when he walked into the lobby, since he had no idea we were watching.

We fell together easily. No one cared what we did, so we focused on heading to a few antique malls. Around here they seem to start at 10,000 sq feet and go up from there. Our first stop was Collectimania, which turned out to be more of a flea market than an antique shop. It ended up working out well. We ALL bought something! Prices were really decent/low and it was tough to resist. I bought a jacket. No, I didn't need it, but I couldn't NOT buy it. Paul got a goofy pottery chip and dip set that looked like a swimming pool with swimmers in inner tubes. He says he's going to cut a hole into his dining room table and insert the set, then fill the pool with salsa. What a nut!

Shelb and Paul
(Shelby and Paul)

Shelby got some really nice geodes and old comic books for her son, Dalton. I hope he likes them!

We went to two other malls and saw lots of crap and some over-the-top-expensive furniture. One set was priced at $165,000.00! I wonder if they would take, $125,000.00? Cough. By the time we finished our antique tour, we were hungry and ready to eat something again. I was surprised that breakfast finally wore off!


Our dinner destination was set for The Cheescake Factory. It's at a mall about a mile from the hotel. I was too tired to try to find some local haunt, so this would do just fine. The place was packed and loud. The wait for the table was 20 to 30 minutes, which ended up really being over an hour. By the time we got seated we were ready to eat the table cloth.

Me and Paul
(Robin and Paul)

Once again, we ordered too much food that we could not finish. Did that stop us from ordering cake? No way! We got it to go! Feeling awful, we dragged ourselves back to the hotel where we hung out and made up a new word for Urban Dictionary. We just laughed and goofed around, watched SNL with Sarah Palin and picked at our cake. Paul went back to his room and Shelb and I rolled uncomfortably in our beds. Of course we decided to eat the rest of our deserts. Not a great idea. It was a looooong painful night!

We finally were too tired to keep talking and before too long we were both passed out cold.