Sunday, March 6, 2011


“Oh, my gosh dad, that was so close!”  There I was looking out my window over the side of a cliff that just seemed to go on down forever with some wicked looking trees and rocks at the bottom.  “We really have to get these brakes fixed.”
We had just come around a curve going down Buckhorn Summit when we spotted a deer on the side of the road ahead. My dad hit the brakes gently to just slow up and give the deer time to pass. However, instead of slowing down and riding through the curve, the brakes made a horrible metal to metal grinding sound as they locked up sending the car sliding toward the cliff an inch from the edge.
“I think you’re right,” he said, carefully pulling back onto the road.  “We should go right now.”  I could see his hands shaking a little as he put them back on the wheel. We drove carefully back to Napa in town, bought the parts, and managed to get home with only a few close calls.
As soon as we got home, I ran into the house and grabbed the bucket of tools while dad got the jack out of the car.  Since this wasn’t my first time changing the brakes, I shoved bricks under the tires to keep the car from rolling and grabbed the tools I needed. I started to take the tire off when dad got into his usual lecture routine.
“Changing the brakes is like doing brain surgery,” he started.  I moaned silently waiting for him to be done.  “You have to be careful about what you touch and unscrew.  You also have to have all the right tools ready...” He went on for what seemed like hours, and I could feel the sun setting as he spoke.
“Dad!” I yelled, “we need to get started before we run out of daylight.”
“Alright!!” he said.
I loosened the bolts on the tires and then jacked up the car slowly turning the hand crank and lifting it inch by inch.  After I jacked up the car and finished taking the tires off, I loosened the bolt on the caliper and swung it back to take the brake pads out.  Once that was out of the way and done, I noticed that the cylinder on one side was noticeably smaller, but there was nothing we could do about that then.  We decided that we would have to replace the brakes sooner than usual and put the new set of pads on for now.  I closed it up and semi-tightened the bolts on the tires.  After I lowered the car, we took it for test drive. About two miles into the drive, the car started shaking.  Dad had a worried look on his face again.
“Why is the car shaking?” he asked as the answer suddenly dawned on me.
“I think I forgot to tighten the bolts on the tire after I lowered the car.”
“Yikes,” he said, pulling onto a dirt road thinking we would find a place to pull off.  Instead we learned that the road went on forever and there was no place to pull off except into a ditch.  Once we finally found a spot and pulled off the road, I got the tire iron out of the trunk, attached it to the bolt, put my foot on it, jumped, and immediately fell to the ground.  Riding around on the tire had loosened the bolts even more to the point that I could tighten them back up with my fingers.  I could tell by the look on my dad’s face that he had another lecture in mind but, thankfully, decided against it.
“Let’s go go to Starbucks,” he said instead.
We had a nice break relaxing with some whipped cream topped ice mochas and started home as the sun was setting.  Halfway there and deep in the woods, the lights began getting dimmer and dimmer and the car faltered and died.
“I think that the alternator just died on us.”
“I hate cars,” I said as dad pulled the cell phone out to call mom and get us rescued.

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