The syncro's starter cranked, lagging for a second before catching. The liberally muffled exhausted echoed around the small mechanics shop in Arcata. I grinned at John, the grey haired man poking his head into the engine bay.
"It's still doing that slow crank thing... we cant really figure out what that's about.. but it's not cutting out any more," John yelled over the rough idle of the syncro. "One of the guys went through and secured the harness with zip ties and checked all of the grounds. Not sure exactly which one it was, but its not cutting out anymore."
"Awesome. I just need to get back to Portland. I can handle a slow start and rolling her if she craps out."
"Just park on hills," John replied with a laid back tone echoing his roots in the far northwest corner of California.
"I've gotten pretty good at that," I laughed.
"The other option is that we order a starter from Go-westy, but that wont be here until early next week."
"I'll take my chances."
"Thought so. Safe travels man."
After the better part of a week in Arcata, I tossed my backpack in the back seat of the Syncro and headed towards the 101. The freedom of having a wheels again overcame my fear that the starter could crap out at any moment. At the same time, it made me realize how good I had it when the van was 100% reliable.
Sticking to the coastal rout, I followed the 101 up from Humboldt into Oregon.
"I can get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog..." My week in Arcata prompted me to pick up this hog. She fits well in the back of the syncro and is perfect for motoring around town.
Memories flooded of all the times that a break down would have been a serious problem. Middle of nowhere in Baja, 500 miles from the nearest van mechanic. BLM Land in Utah, 50 miles from the nearest cell tower. 20 miles down a 4x4 road in Death Valley. All of these scenarios would have required multiple day efforts just to get the van to a mechanic. It's best to count your blessings, I mused to myself.
Cresting the peak of the coastal range and the syncro descended into the Willamette valley. In the distance, the radio towers dotted the west hills. Like a spot light singling an attraction, these towers spelled an end to my mechanical plagued journey that started over a month before. I breathed a sigh of relief.
"It's all down hill from here," I informed the empty passenger seat.
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