Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Little Go-Cart

I didn't get my driver's license until I was almost 18 years old.  I didn't have money for a car; I didn't want to have to pay for insurance (we paid for our own insurance in my family); and I certainly got out of having to drive my younger siblings around.  I got my learner's permit right away and promptly introduced hot coffee into my dad's lap when I trounced on the brake...a father's right of passage, yes?
I received my first car as a gift to me and my friend Mary at Thanksgiving of 2001.  We shared Ganesha, an old '85 Toyota Camry, for five years before gifting her to a friend of Mary's who was more mechanically knowledgeable and could maintain her in her old age.  We bought a car together after that, and it wasn't until August 2008 that I bought my very own car, an old '96 Honda Civic - much to Thomas's lament as he has spent some time under the hood and recently replaced the muffler.
That wonderful trip a couple of months ago to the farm that grew 5,000 pounds of garlic scarred my car, affectionately called Pita (meaning little pea, not the bread).  The "driveway" to the farm was terribly rutted, and though I mastered the ruts and rocks on the way there, I caught a rock and killed my muffler as we were trying to get home.  We heard the thunk and knew it wasn't good, but when the jeep behind us along that stretch of highway caught up to us at a highway junction, they hollered that an animal was hanging out of the exhaust pipe.  I couldn't imagine what had crawled into the exhaust pipe for asphyxiation, but Thomas saw it first.  It looked more like horse hair or a wig.  There was a young boy who seemed a little off at the farm who we thought might have pulled a prank on us, but the "hair" continued to come out in gobs.  The insulation in the muffler was what it really was.  After it seemed to have finished shedding, I stopped checking to see if there was more to throw away.  One day my father-in-law's "cousin" stopped by the parish office and asked me what was coming out of my muffler.  I told her I needed to get the muffler replaced, and she asked if the two feet of "string" coming out was to remind me.  That's one way to look at it!

Poor Pita has been driving a little irregularly since then, though still running and still super fuel efficient.  I admit that Pita's emissions are probably not great, which might cancel out the environmental achievement of over 40 mpg.  The other drawback has been the additional noise, which some people actually pay money to alter their car to sound like mine.  I didn't really hear it, but Thomas said it sounded like a go cart.  The animals noticed.  Deer and elk would usually not run from the familiar sound of a car, but stop, cock their heads, and stare at me approaching and driving away.  Really peculiar!  The cows, however, would run, no - sprint, away from me as I approached.  To see a cow run like that is really a funny sight, especially when I am nowhere near them.  Anyway, Pita made it to Villanueva, Albuquerque and Denver, but enough was enough.  Thomas ordered the parts and installed the new muffler on Friday. 

I have noticed that the animals are responding differently to the new muffler.  Just last night a big white/gray owl swooped down and probably thought Pita was just a big mouse or something because she's so quiet now.  Or maybe it was something else...

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