If you can forgive my disappearing act, you can overlook the Depeche Mode reference in the title of this post. You could say I was out living life, rather than blogging about it — if you can call car trouble “living.”
Saturday, the Boyfriend and I spent the day in Flagstaff. We went to the movies (He wanted to see “The Dark Knight Rises”; I wanted to see “The Words,” so we each watched our own.) But on Sunday afternoon, we headed out of town.
The goal: Payson — and we made it there just fine in his truck. Getting home, however, was an adventure I’d rather not repeat.
It started not long after we left Payson (about an hour’s drive from his place). The truck’s headlights dimmed. I remembered getting stranded when the same thing happened to my grandma and grandpa’s car, so I mentioned it to him. Pretty soon, they dimmed a second time. About that time, the battery light lit up on the dash and he suggested I find a place to pull over so he could check the connection.
“Pull over and leave the engine running.”
I did. We were on the edge of Pine. Even before he got out of the vehicle, the display on the dash flashed “charging system failure.”
He took over the driving and we pushed onward. We made it through Strawberry and up the
pathetic excuse for switchbacks before the lights dimmed even more. We rolled to a stop in a turnout lane about four miles south of the turnoff to Camp Verde.
Thank goodness we had cellphone service. He called for a tow truck while I tweeted and played games on my phone to stay calm. Being stranded on the side of the road in the boonies at 11 p.m. is not my idea of fun … It’s kind of freaky to be sitting there in utter blackness, illuminated only by the glow of our phone screens and the occasional passing vehicle.
A few of the vehicles stopped to ask if we were okay or needed help, which was nice. The Boyfriend told them, “No thanks. We have a tow truck on the way.”
Funny thing was, the truck was deader than a doornail when we pulled off the road — but a few minutes later, we had enough power to run the emergency flashers. They flashed right up until the tow truck pulled up, and then they stopped working.
Maybe it was the Man Upstairs, looking out for us.
Or maybe all vehicles are designed with some kind of power reserve system that will run emergency lights for a set amount of time after the alternator gives out.
My hunch was right: It was the alternator. (As a kid, I got stranded with my grandma and grandpa on the way to their cabin on the Tippecanoe River. The lights got dim and then the car just stopped … Grandpa went walking for help and came back in a semi. The driver took us to the nearby truck stop and we called our neighbors at the river to come get us. The next day, Grandpa found out the problem was the alternator.)
That’s not an experience you ever forget. Lucky me — now I’ve gotten to have it twice.