Thursday, November 19, 2009
South of the Border.....or.. BIG IRON comes home
I have just returned from a trip to San Carlos,Mexico, in the Sonoran Desert on the upper East shore of the Sea of Cortez. I made the trip to retrieve our 1977 suburban, BIG IRON, I had left in a storage yard when daughter Heidi and I hopped on our Cal 48 KOHO to sail to Alaska last May. While we were en route,BIG IRON had to weather a hurricane . To return to retrieve our car I had to take a motley assortment of planes and buses and trucks to get to San Carlos. Once I arrived and saw the mess, I considered donating BIG IRON to the local recycler, but there wasn't any. I had heard there was a lot of damage to the town. There was. Houses and cars and boats washed away along with a lot of bridges and roads. And yet a lot of favorably sited structures were untouched. The local Mexicans were still hard at it ,both men and women with shovels and rakes and brooms trying to get all the gravel off the roads. The locals seemed nonplussed about it all but the resident expats were still pretty grumpy waiting to have their utilities restored. Many were still trucking in water. Anyway..back to my story. The old truck wouldn't start. She had been underwater a few feet. I was told San Carlos set a new all time rainfall record of 45+ inches of water in less than a day with normal annual rainfall only 6-8".Finding parts and help for my Suburban was a challenge with no auto parts stores nearby, no rental cars and the storage yard distant from the town. I did a lot of walking and met many nice Mexicans who all had stories to tell me. I found a used starter from a 1976 Chevy which worked. My old starter was new, which I had installed 6 months ago before the trip down but it swam with the fishes because unfortunately it is mounted low on the engine . It was corroded. I disassembled it, cleaned up the commutator, and did locate a replacement solenoid which I found on a bus trip to Guaymas, the nearest town of any size. The transmission had to refilled with new oil oil but the engine was fine. The whole job was done with a crescent wrench and vice grips and no sockets. There were lots of mosquitoes and mud and no way to jack up the car properly on supports and so working under it was a tight fit and rather messy. Other misc electrical gremlins still plague me but I managed to get it running with new gasoline. The trip north to the border had some trials and tribulations which included a Mexican tag team stealing my new CD player out of the dash while my back was turned. It was a clever trick done at a Pemex gas station with one guy distracting me while his buddy did his evil deed. I actually drove 1350 miles nonstop before I started seeing the mexican virgin of Guadelupe, the ghost of Brigham Young, and pink giraffes near Pocatello Idaho, so I had to stop to banish the demons and limp home the next morning. The old vermilion colored four wheel drive struggled up 8500' Teton Pass where it coughed and sputtered and belched and farted finally crested the summit after a few rest stops for the carburetor to gather its wits. I eventually coasted down the backside of the pass and chugged home to our log cabin in the cottonwoods. A friend asked me why I would spend $500 to bring back a car worth $400. I told him I was just doing what the government was doing.