Thursday, March 5, 2009

DEER ME!........Not Again?

OK, maybe the title is a little misleading. I figured I had to do something to catch your attention after not posting for so long. There have been no more deer collisions since the incident I blogged about.

However, the trips to Hebron continue to be exciting. Last Sunday was another one of my monthly visits to the brick maker city to lead worship services. The trip out was uneventful enough. It was pretty cold and windy. I don't believe it was snowing but there was enough wind to blow the snow on the ground. Some places didn't have the best visibility and at times it was difficult to see the road because of all the snow blowing across.

But I made it to church, shook hands with my regulars, and proceeded to worship. I have to say it wasn't one of my better messages, but they seemed to really enjoy the song. I try to always sing something that goes along with the message. I feel if the congregation doesn't care for what I have to say, maybe they'll appreciate the song. Sunday's message was about weathering the storms in our life. I chose the song, "The Anchor Holds," by Ray Boltz. I thought it was quite appropriate singing about our lives being like a ship on a storm-tossed sea. It also tied in pretty well with the windy weather that day.

About noon I pointed the car East and started home. I was eager to get back to my warm, natural gas heated house and a spot of lunch. The weather hadn't really changed from the morning other than to tease me with just a glimpse of sunshine every once in awhile. As I passed the West Mandan exit by the truck stop, I started to notice something wasn't quite right.

The cruise control on my car went out years ago. I really miss it as I have a very hard time maintaining a constant speed. So when I noticed my speedo-meter was approaching 85 I wasn't very surprised because my foot doesn't make for a very good cruise control device. I let up on the gas. Unfortunately, my gas pedal wasn't interested in leaving the floor. Then I began to get concerned.

I pushed the accelerator a few times, I tried to pull it up. All I succeeded in doing was pushing it further down. Now I was going over 90 and was very concerned at this point as to how I was going to get this 4-wheeled runaway stopped again.

If I had more time to think about it, I probably would have been more terrified. As it was, I found myself calmly watching the landscape speeding past and pondered my options. I could shut the engine off. I believe I've only done this twice in the 25 years or so I've been allowed to legally operate a motor vehicle. The first time I was in drive but wasn't moving because my foot was on the brake. The second time I was going in reverse but very slowly. Both times, when I accidentally turned the key, there was quite a jolt before the engine shut off. I didn't like to think about what kind of jolt might have occurred had I tried to shut the engine off while traveling over 90 mph.

Now I was approaching the scenic overlook just West of the middle Mandan exit close to the Seven Seas Motel. This was my exit and I dearly wanted to make it. I thought I could shift the car into neutral first before turning it off. Then maybe I could coast to a stop without any damage or jolting that might have occurred with option number one. My exit was fast approaching and I didn't have time to consider any more options.

I mashed the brake to try and slow it down as much as I could before shifting. I got it down to around 60 and started to smell smoke and something like burning metal. I didn't think the brakes could take it much longer. I'm sure brakes are accustomed to being used without the gas pedal pushed to floor at the same time. I shifted into Neutral.

Immediately the car screamed as the RPM's shot to the ceiling and I quickly turned the key. Hearing the engine quit and feeling the car subsequently slowing down was a beautiful thing. I applied the brake again and found it to be much more accommodating when it wasn't fighting the accelerator. The timing was just about perfect. I coasted right off the exit ramp and came to a stop in front of the stop sign across from the Sunset MVP station.

Then the shock of what I had just gone through began to sink in. I started shaking and had to take several deep breaths before I got myself under control. I had just started to calm down when a blaring horn scared the liver out of me again. As I only have one liver I wondered how it was possible to have it scared out of me twice in one day. The honking continued.

I looked behind me to see a cranky lady glaring at me with some very angry eye-balls. She would have made a good character model for the Mr. Potato Head toy. She had those eyeballs down pat. I had pulled over as far as I possibly could without going in the ditch or burying myself in a snow bank. There was a ton of room to go around me. But this woman was having none of it. I looked at her in what I hope was an apologetic look, raised my hands in the air, and tried to mime, "this can't be helped, woman!" She gave me another withering stare, wrenched her vehicle around me and sped off. I prayed she would get home safely as she was clearly upset about something.

I also thanked God for pulling me through yet another storm. I had to laugh when I thought how much better my message would have been if this had happened before church instead of after. As I was laughing I heard a pop and felt my gas pedal hit my foot. Apparently it had had enough of lying on the floor. I worked the pedal up and down several times to make sure it wasn't sticking anymore. Then I did it again just to make sure, then I did it several more times until I was convinced I could make it home without any more emergencies.

And so I did. You would have thought nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I made it safely home but still breathed a deep sigh of relief as I drove into the garage and shut the beast down. Boy did I have a story to tell all the nations. I really like that hymn by the way.

Deanna, true to her nature, immediately freaked out. I did too but I was over it by the time I got home. She insisted I take the car in as soon as possible and get it checked out. "It's working fine now," I say. "Yeah, now," she says back.

In an effort to keep the peace, I made an appointment to take the car in on Tuesday. It turns out the accelerator had a lot of Carbon build-up which was making it sticky. Everything else checked out fine. I even had them look at the brakes since I smelled the smoking and burning. They were fine also. So I had them take the accelerator apart and clean everything to hopefully stop the sticking.

My next trip to Hebron will be Easter Sunday. I can't wait to see what the next adventure has in store.


Steve at Random said...

Great and Paul. He had a shipwreck and you hit a deer and had your accelerator stick. At least the uneducated of us know what to do and how to do it if it ever happens to us. The challenges of being a traveling all you need to do is learn how to make tents.

AZJim said...

Yes, Great story, I'm just glad you got it stopped safely. It will make for a great sermon when your talking again about the storms/hurdles in your life and how God stepped in again to save you. BTW - I did "The Anchor Holds" for our church talent show and yes it is one of my favorite songs also.

BismarckMandanBlog said...

That carbon turns into a sticky tar in the throttle body. I've cleaned mine in my truck a couple of times. I'd never heard of it sticking a throttle open, though.

Kristopher and Crew said...

Crazy... That's not something I'd ever thought about happening. I'm not sure that I would have thought to stop it that way. Quick thinking!

Ar Vee said...

I sure hope that ends your problem.What takes me aback is the impatient lady.Some years back there was a song called”Where is the Love”.In 1st Cor. The Bible says Love is patient,kind,ect.. and without Love we are like clanking bells.I’m sure I clank a little at times but come-on,The lady that was so rude to you represents a growing number of impatient even hateful people.Clankers.They need a reason to be mad at someone.I hope sometime later she rethought her impatience.On-the –other-hand look at the folks side by side passing sand bags in Fargo.That gives me hope.The real Holy Father must be proud to see His children behaving with such a giving spirit.It’s rare these days to see folks come together doing unto others as they would wish to be helped.Where is the love? In North Dakota in numbers too large to go unseen.I would guess that lady,the clanker,wishes she had that day back and could follow the example of her fellow North Dakota People.I’m also guessing there were no Dems. Or that group passing sand bags.Just darn tired children of God happy to be helping out.Let the healing begin,we really are one in the Spirit. Sometimes it takes the worst to bring out the best in people.I really think the New Year should start in May when the birds show up and start singing.Animals are having there young and most people have survived winter in the north.Happy New Year!May we both have better luck with our cars.