Day Six. Still in Des Moines. Still Don't Have a Car.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Sat, 10/18/2008 - 10:28

A Few Minutes Together

I didn't even drive 10 miles before the "service engine soon" light came on the dashboard again-also what returned was the all too familiar and frightening engine surge. I just got off the phone with BMW and told them to come get the car and get me a rental. They didn't even push back. Just said they would be here soon and get it taken care of.

BMW of Des Moines "Yes, your car is fixed." No it ain't!

Last night Shelby did drive down. My friend, Paul, is driving down this morning and the three of us will have a nice weekend together and I'll have something to keep my mind off the gut churning fear that's building up inside me.

How the HECK am I gonna get home, EVER???

Day Five. I Want to Go Home, but Have No Way to Get There.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 23:26

I had another bad night. Got up sick again. Thought, "Great, now I'm going to have to go to the Doctor on my vacation, too! Just great!"

I stayed up for an hour reading about peri-menapause. Nice. I hate getting OLD. It fucking sucks. Anyway, I calmed down enough to re-load myself with pain meds and go to bed. I slept 'til 9:30 am and missed my freebie breakfast. I didn't care. I wasn't hungry anyway. See? Something is wrong with me if I'm not hungry!

I did a load of laundry and did some writing. I called Brian at BMW and he said the part came in, the car was DONE and they were detailing it now and it should be ready in a few hours. Yippppie!!!

To celebrate, I went back to bed and took a nap until I had to leave. I need to catch up on sleep, still, so I grab it when I can.

I got back to the dealer to drop off the rental and get my car. I was feeling a lot better. Maybe I'd have a vacation after all?

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!

I'm not writing any more. I have company coming and I have to get ready. Shelby is driving down from Minneapolis to rescue me!!!! Thank GOD!

Unwelcome Friend

I'll write more about my car being BROKE AGAIN soon, Yes, I said NOT WORKING PROPERLY. NOT FIXED. MIS-FUNCTIONING. ERROR. ARRRGH!!!!!... for now. Fuck it all I say! Fuck it all!

Robin :-)

Day Four. Vacation Related Activities at LAST!

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 23:19

So while my car is being bathed and adjusted, I head back to my hotel to get my maps! Yes, MAPS. I can't use my GPS because it's hard wired into the car and I don't have an extra power cord for it, so it's back to basics.

What's good about this is it forces me to memorize details of where I need to go. I've been having foggy-head for awhile and this is a good reason to WAKE UP ALREADY.

I jotted down the location of my favorite old haunt, AOKAY ANTIQUES. Back in the olden days, when I was newly, firstly married, my husband and I often travelled to these here parts to check out the fantastic antiques. We made friends with a dealer named Steve Mumma. A handsome, smooth talker, who had an eye for great big advertising signs and cool stuff from the 1940's and 50's. We bought many things from him over the years, then, as often happens, we lost touch with Steve. I suppose that getting divorced and moving to Connecticut may have had something to do with losing touch.


I made my way back to Valley Junction, the district where the little antique shops and boutiques are located. It's very cute and easy to navigate and low and behold, in the exact same spot is AOKAY. I suddenly felt a bit shy. I remembered Steve, but he's had thousands of customers in the TWENTY YEARS since I've seen him. What if he didn't even own the shop any more? What if he did?

My questions were answered soon enough. Within moments of entering his shop, I heard his voice. It was Steve, sure enough, the slim, grey-haired man, cleaning a glass case, was the same guy I used to hang out with. I didn't walk up to him. He was busy doing something and shouting out orders to a helper. I looked around the shop. It still had remarkable things, but the prices had jumped through the roof. A woman at the counter greeted me and I returned her hello. I walked through the shop, marveling at all the goodies.

Eventually, I worked up the nerve to say hello. Boy, did I feel awkward!

I looked at Steve and he looked at me funny. I said, you recognize me, don't you? And he nodded, yes. After a few minutes, it all came flooding back and he smiled and warmed right up. He had just been thinking about a joke, my friend, Shelby told him so long ago. Odd that he should think of that, then see me. We caught up a bit on old times. He looked great, just older. In the blink of an eye, twenty years had passed for both of us. It was strange, indeed.

I was rather nervous so I kept my chatting to a minimum. Steve invited me to stop back and gave me his card. I gave him mine. It was nice to see him again, yet so strange to feel a tugging sense of all those years that are lost to both of us.

Not sure what the moral of my story is, but at least I had a few minutes of joy before the shit hit the fan...again.

Day Four. I'm Alive, but My Car..Not so Much....

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:51

I drag myself out of bed. Woozy, sleep-deprived, nauseous. Yeah, this is my idea of a road trip, baby!!! I call the BMW dealer and the curt young lady who answered the phone told me they could easily look at my car and to bring it right on in.

I had a bite of the FREE! breakfast at the hotel, then got myself over to the dealer. It was only a few miles away and with everything here set on a grid, it was easy to find.

The dealership is new, clean, stunning, well stocked. The Service Mgr, Brian, was very polite and friendly. He offered to have me wait in their elegant waiting room, with cable tv, free starbucks coffee, tazo teas OR he could shuttle me over to the mall to go shopping while I was waiting on my car.

I was too tired to do more than just sit there, so that's what I did.

I started thinking about if I could go forward and on to Nevada and I realized that if the car had more problems on the road, I'd potentially be in even more of a world of pain. I'm so goal-oriented that part of me needs to attain this task at whatever price and the other part of me is yelling at the first part and saying to just GO HOME already!!!!

They ran the diagnostics. Bad news. The same sensor failed, the thermostat was failing and the air-intake was crapped up, too.


I got on the phone with Gary, again! and he talked to the Service Mgr about the history of the car and they talked about what to fix or if the sensors really failed or if it wasn't a uncleared fault from last month. We all went back and forth. Sam and Chuck were calling me. I was feeling torn up inside about everything. I'd come so far, but still had another 1300 miles to go. I just cried some more...then pulled myself together.

It was deemed that the water pump should also be replaced when the thermostat was done, so that was added to the bill. While they were at it, I'm at the WTF-state now, anyway, so I am having them detail the car while they're at it. It's LONG overdue and if I'm gonna have more car problems, then car should look nice. HA HA HA.


BUT! They are giving me a rental car for free!

Oh brother...

oh...and there's a part that has to be overnighted so my car might be running by Friday or it might be Saturday or who knows when.

So I get into my Nissan Sentra rental and limp back to the hotel to ponder what my next steps will be, but first...

a visit to Target to get tampons!

Day Three. Goodbye Cruel World.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:50

For the next few hours, I could barely breathe. The truck traffic was heavy and I was trying to not go too fast and stay in the right lane, in case I had to bail out and get off the road fast. The problem was there were so many trucks, going so fast, that if the car shut off, I would be killed.

I have never been so frightened and felt more alone in my entire life.

I didn't listen to the radio, I just felt the subtle pulses in the car when I'd stop accelerating for a moment or tried to throttle up a hill. For awhile the car would seem fine, then I'd feel the pulsing again. I kept chanting: "It's just bad gas, I'm going to be ok. It's just bad gas, I'm going to be ok."

I couldn't take it any more, so I called Sam. I called to tell him Good bye in case I died! Maybe you think I'm an idiot, but with everything that has happened in my life, I could die any second. I didn't want to scare Sam, but I know I did. I balled my head off and Sam vowed to go after the jerk BMW dealer in Davenport, along with BMW-USA. He told me not to worry, but worry I did.

Shortly after my big cry, Mary Ellen called to check in. I told her what had happened and she was terrific. We talked so much, that I started to relax a bit. I was less than one hour from Des Moines-if I could only get there alive!!!!

The engine seemed to be operating rather well and I felt almost human as I took the exit for the Fairfield Inn & Suites in West Des Moines, Iowa. I parked the car and felt about 500 lbs lighter. I was greeted by Chris, the manager, who helped me unload the car. I decided to take everything out because my next stop was going to be the BWM Dealership the next morning.

I got myself settled, had some dinner and watched a few minutes of "the debate," then hit the pillow.

At about 4:30am I woke up in excruciating pain. The period that started on Monday, then vanished, returned these days later with a vengance. I took a mouthful of pain killers and went back to bed. I had to get up in a few hours! I wanted to sleep for a month!!!!!!

Would the Des Moines BMW take care of my car? Would I live to tell about it? I didn't even care.

I just wanted to be HOME and in my own bed, but I was 1400 miles away. What a jerk I am.

Day Three. Re-Tired.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:50

With new, pouffy tires, I hit the wet roads and continued on to Des Moines. I was pretty hungry, but determined to get to Davenport, IA to eat at The Machine Shed; a homestyle farmer-centric restaurant I'd read about on It was still a few hours drive, so I just sucked it up and kept going.

Things were ok until just before I got to Davenport. I was looking for a highway sign to confirm I should exit for the Machine Shed. I saw the sign then felt the car lose power. I wasn't sure if I hit a puddle or what happened, since I was distracted. I exited and just off the ramp, the car SHUT OFF. I was in traffic, but able to quickly restart the car and keep going.

This is the SAME failure that happened to the car a month ago. It would shut off without warning. Turned out to be a failed sensor. Was the sensor bad again or was it from water vapor in the gas line? I was shaking and starving and scared and I just wanted to be HOME. I thought I'd just go eat something, then deal with the car later.

2008-10-21 10:28:34 -0500

I entered the Machine Shed around 3pm. I was delighted by the country decor, cutesy merchandising and the friendly staff who all wore overalls and red checked shirts.

My waitress, Tina, was very chatty and friendly. She told me about her 21 year old son and that he just came back from military training at Fort Dix and was going to be shipping out soon. She was proud of her son, but scared to yell at him because "What if he died and I yelled at him?"

Food for thought for all of us.

I really couldn't eat. I picked at my food, still shaking from fear about the car problems. I looked up a hotel in Des Moines, hoping that I would make it there. I talked to Sam and he found me TWO BMW dealers. One right there in Davenport and one in Des Moines. I decided to give up on eating and head out to the car and to get to the dealer.

I no sooner started the car when the "service engine soon" light came on.


2008-10-21 10:29:47 -0500

It's not water vapor in the gas, is it?

I called the Davenport BMW. The service manager said they were going to close in 45 minutes and that they really couldn't see me. Diagnostics take 45 mins to an hour to run and they couldn't hold the shop open for me even though I was ALONE with CAR TROUBLES and NO ONE TO HELP BAIL ME OUT.


He talked to his mechanic and they agreed it was probably bad gas and that I should be OK to get to Des Moines. He wished me a safe trip. Yeah, thanks...PRICK.

So what should I do? Des Moines was 175 miles away. It was 4:15 pm. i was going to lose sunlight and about to lose my mind. I hoped it was just a matter of burning off fuel, so I topped off the tank, thinking the added gas might help and I began the white-knuckle drive to Des Moines.

Day Three. Tired.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:49

I was still very tired, but I didn't want to impose on Trevor and I really did need to continue onward. If I knew what was to unfold during the next 24hrs, I would have turned tail right then and there and gone home.

The trip to Des Moines started out with some difficulty. I navigated rush hour and lots of construction delays with the help of my now-I-almost-like-it-GPS. After a few hours I was well clear of the City and headed towards the Iowa border.

It was raining and there was a lot of truck traffic. The once rolling hills of the east were long gone, replaced by stiffly flat farmland. There wasn't much to look at, so I focused on just getting past semi's that were kicking up so much water vapor I was worried about it effecting the car, so I tried to steer clear.

I stopped in DeKalb, IL. I wasn't feeling well and heck, it was called; The DeKalb Oasis, so I thought I'd stop for a bit. I hadn't had more than a yogurt smoothy and the car needed some gas. I decided not to get any food, but I did get more than I bargained for. I thought it would be a good idea to look at my tires. It was a good and bad idea.

The passenger rear tire had a small flap located near the rim. It didn't seem that deep or that dramatic, but I thought I should have it checked. Sam helped me find a tire place and I called them and told them I was on the way.

2008-10-21 10:25:02 -0500

I didn't get to the place Sam suggested, because I saw a Tires Plus before I even hit Midas. I stopped in and talked to Nick. He looked at the tire and found a second small ripped flap and said the tire had to go.

2008-10-21 10:23:17 -0500

Being that I was driving on low profile 17in tires, they weren't something that folks in DeKalb put on their cars. I couldn't just replace the rear two tires, I had to replace them ALL and get rid of the three, decent, remaining tires. I wasn't about to keep them in the car with me for the next two weeks.

What could I do? I talked to Gary at Newtown Car Care. I talked to Sam. There's not much to do, unless I wanted to order something from Tire Rack and stay in a DeKalb hotel until they showed up.

So I dropped 650. for new tires. At least they are all-weather so I can drive in whatever!

While I was waiting for my car, I struck up a conversation with a guy who was waiting for his truck to have some work done on it. He sets up post-printing equipment, like robots, collators, bindery. He travels all over the country, setting up equipment and said he hasn't seen any slow down in business, that the printers are buying millions of dollars of machinery. He did say the printers are losing some business-a sign of the times.

We traded funny stories and the two hours passed quickly. Both our cars were done at the same time and the two sales clerks were ringing up our invoices when one of them looked confused. He started to hand me a bill, then realized it belonged to the guy I was speaking with. Why the confusion?

We both have the same last name! Same spelling. Everything!

I said it must mean we were destined to meet for some reason and he agreed. He wished me safe travels.

If only he had been right.

Day Two. Chicago for "Rest."

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:49

As always, what you plan, may not necessarily be what happens. I planned to take it easy and not do too much, but Trevor was ready to walk the entire length and breadth of the city to show me all it boasts. I'm not ungrateful, but darn it's tough to go-go-go when you want to sit-sit-sit.

I was still feeling like I was moving in the car, when I got up. It took me awhile to pull myself together, but we eventually were able to walk along the broad, clean sidewalk towards our breakfast destination!

I had read about The Original Pancake House and was excited to be able to start my day with a great breakfast. It seems as though CT is one of the few states that doesn't boast a OPH, so this was my first visit. I wasn't disappointed.

The OPH is in a tiny HOUSE. It's surprising since it's surrounded by multi-story buildings. The service was prompt and friendly. The menu was loaded with oodles of combinations of pancakes, of course, as well as some other special combinations. I was too out of it to note them down, but I was able to grab a take out menu, so I'll list some entrees when I get time.

I got banana pancakes. Anyone who knows me, knows I love them! These pancakes were certainly fantastic, light, fluffy, not rubbery, but the real delight was the...whatever it was that I poured on top of the pancakes! It was some sort of thin orange marmalade-syrup. It was not super sweet, but delicate and aromatic. It was pure bliss.

2008-10-17 10:13:42 -0500

I offered some to Trevor to pour on his CHOCOLATE CHIP pancakes!!!! He seemed to enjoy it as well. In fact, I would have liked to just drink that syrup down it was so good.

Then the bill came...woah..these were not Connecticut prices. Very nice. About 20 bucks for both of us.

We then began what I like to refer to as "The Walk of Pain." One of those seemed-like-a-good-idea walks where you look at the lovely architecture, peer into the shop windows and after awhile you start to realize your feet not only hurt, but are getting blisters. Drat!

Before my feet went to Hell, I did get to the top of the Hancock Tower which had spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the city. It was a perfect, clear day and the observation deck was not even crowded. I certainly felt lucky to be there. Trevor seemed to be having fun, too. We had a touristy photo taken to commemorate our visit, but we both wished we were either taller, thinner, younger, or something we are not. I decided I was glad I know how to retouch things in photoshop, but not sure my chops are sufficient for what we would want done.

View from the Hancock
(Trevor's apt is in the building with the white vertical stripes)

We strolled along and Trevor pointed out as much of the rich architectural history of the city that he could, along with details about all the apartments he looked at buying when he came to the city a few years ago. None of them compare to the place he settled into. It is really great.

Trevor's place has floor to ceiling windows that wrap around almost the entire living space. There are breathtaking viewws of not only the city, but the lake and a park filled with colorful trees. The views aren't obstructed by other buildings and because his place is about 200 ft off the ground, it almost feels like you're floating in the sky.

Rooftop chicago

I loved it, though I admit, the floating part didn't help the vertigo I had from the previous day's drive! It also was tough to sleep because I wanted to just look out the window and take a million photos. I was also treated to a rooftop visit that heralded in even better views and more photos ops for me and Trevor.

Coolesque Chick in Chicago

So back to the stroll...

...I saw The Bean! Why Chicago has a bean and not Boston? Why a BEAN? It's a HUGE metal bean sculpture. I don't know the artist. It was marvelous and striking and it glowed and moved as it reflected the city around it, but heck...someone has to keep this thing CLEAN. One more job I'm glad I don't do.

the Bean

We had a wonderful lunch at a fancy Irish Pub. The food was terrific, not overly sauced or spiced. I had a roasted mushroom half sandwich and a cup of tangy potato, BACON and clam soup! Yummmy!

I begged a cab ride back to Trevor's for that much needed rest! I was sporting three blisters. Ugh! At least I walked off those pancakes.

Day One. 889 Miles to Chicago.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 23:25

I couldn't write yesterday because I was so wiped out and woozy. To back up from the start, the night before I left I literally got NO sleep. I didn't feel nervous, I just didn't feel able to fall asleep. I blame good old hormones for this, as I get one night a month where no sleep comes to me and it's just before something "else arrives"...if you catch my drift.

So no sleep. I still managed to get up, but was too queasy to eat, so I decided to just get on the road. It was bit later than I wanted, but I left at 7:30am.

This is how great I felt about leaving-

Still in the Driveway

Sam was truly great about the whole thing. I really didn't want to go, but he reminded me that it's time to do some growing (upwards), so off I went.

The first few hours passed easily. The rolling hillsides of central New York State, along I-84, were dotted with freshly turned gold and orange plump looking trees. I loved seeing all the colors. It made me smile, as I began to settle in to listening to tunes and watching the time on the GPS drop down from arriving at 8:12pm to arriving one minute sooner. Oooo...a game! The faster I go, the sooner I get there! I like this!

New York passed by quickly and I stopped at a rest area to, err, rest, where I found out, yes, I got my f-ing period. Great. Now I know why my back hurts, too. Cramps, 900 miles, queasy, ugh...but I kept going.

I entered eastern Pennsylvania and it was like a dreamland of brilliant color. The cloud cover made it tough to get a good photo, but I just absorbed the beauty around me. There was plenty of traffic, but light enough, in spots, where I didn't get held up too much. I did see some lunatic truckers and one crazy SUV driver literally almost hit me! That said, I'm fine and dandy and was still happy to see all that great color and rolling hills.

I even saw a Bald Eagle! It made me think of my Mother (long story about seeing an eagle I'll tell at another time). She would have been so great to have as a companion on the trip!

Well..Pennsylvania doesn't end. I do manage to be entertained by something I see when grabbing crappy peppery lunch at the ever popular KFC
Porn Fun
It keeps on going and going for miles and miles. I'll fill in more details, but have too much to cover right now, but I finally got through the state, hit Ohio with some relief. It was about 5pm.


Ohio was BORING and it cost $9.25 for the TOLL!

I was getting pretty tired, but I pressed onward. I got through Ohio and entered Indiana. I was thrilled, but feeling really wiped out. I wanted to just get to my friend, Trevor's place in Chicago come Hell or high water.

I didn't expect the Hell part, but I sure got it.

Thing is, if I HAD slept the night before I wouldn't have started to feel toxic when I had about an hour left of my drive. I started to feel the world spinning and it was dark by then, too. I knew I should just STOP driving, but I was also so CLOSE. I had to make it.

I hit the Chicago city limits and some insane traffic. Thank goodness I had the GPS. Even though the volume (where is the volume control?!!) was barely audible, I could hear enough to get my way through the spaghetti of highways and avoid getting hit by high-speeding maniacs.

I got to Trevor's in 14 HOURS-almost exactly.

Problem was...after I got out of the car. My body felt like it was STILL moving!!!!!!!

I didn't get more than 3 hours of sleep, so I decided to stay in Chicago today and Trevor graciously took a day off of work to keep me company. I plan on leaving for Des Moines in the morning and will fill you all in on today's activities once I land in Iowa and get settled. For now, I just wanted to let you all know I'm all right. I'm very tired and still woozy, but not as bad as before and am willing to keep going and see how tomorrow goes.

Oh..and Trevor's place is fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More on that tomorrow, too.