Checkpoints: Spine. Knees. Axle. . .

I’d looked forward all day to an intrinsically negligible event that would actually have celebrated a great triumph in the earthly loop of Us vs. Entropy. But Entropy prevailed one more time, and there would be no trip across the river, no quiet celebration in our two-car motorcade. It wasn’t to happen. It didn’t happen. We did not cross the Snake River to fulfill a landmark aspiration.

We did not drop off the rental car.

Grünhilde was not, after all, quite yet ready to resume her duties as my Reliable Genius Audi Transport.

For the past five weeks, my husband has spent evenings, Saturdays, and finally Sundays under the Donkey-in-the-Ditch Doctrine, rebuilding her engine, changing all her valves, replacing her hoses and fluids–everything she seemed to ask when she threw a camshaft bolt, unleashed her timing belt, and presented a dramatic first major breakdown. We so hoped the pilot would not become a series.

Yesterday was so promising. She had her smile back (the grill was back in place). Her engine turned over; it sounded familiar. The Green Battle Lady was back in action. Everything seemed to work properly. My husband had discovered a hole in a constant-velocity joint boot and replaced the boot. He had torqued down the axles to their proper 180 foot pounds. He took a brief test run and all seemed fine.

I insisted on going along for the next test run. I brought a pint of water and a bag with provisions to foster my survival for least two hours; the round-trip test run would be under half a mile. My husband piloted brave Grünhilde onto a main road two-tenths of a mile from home, and accelerated slightly. My car began to make a grinding noise and slow down. “What’s going on?” I asked, not actually prepared to know what was going on. Whatever it was sounded completely terrible.

“I think the axle came loose,” my husband responded with his hallmark fearless objectivity.

The idea of the axle coming loose seemed to me far worse than completely terrible. But it also gave me the mettle to know I could walk home. I also knew I could ride home with the tow truck our emergency road service coverage was going to engage, for the second time in five weeks.

My husband and I walked the 2/10-mile home together. Triumph this day was not to be returning the rental car; it was to be my first walk on pavement in more than a year, without major pain in my knees and spine. It was exhilarating, but the brief sample of normalcy was enough.

The same nice tow truck driver who picked Grünhilde and me up five weeks ago brought her home again. My husband discovered a defective retaining ring in the new CV joint boot that hindered the joint spindle’s proper insertion in the bearing, initiating another horseshoe nail sequence. (The CV joint boot was manufactured in Germany–vote for sanctions.)

It was, all in all, a pleasant summer day, albeit a few minor disappointments, though rife with challenges; a good time was had by all, etc. etc. . . .


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