17 July: Makin’ a Run for Phoenix

We woke up in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  We gassed up and headed south, jumping off of Interstate 25 and heading a bit back east on highway 84.  This avoids Santa Fe and the dipsy-doodle around the mountains. 

Then on through Alburquerque, stopping briefly at a truck stop near Gallup, new Mexico, and onward into Arizona!

Overpass in Albuquerque

Wide open New Mexico

Welcome to Arizona!

Rather than continue on Interstate 40 to Flagstaff then down Interstate 17 to Phoenix, we decided to hop off onto highway 377 at Holbrook, then drive the scenic route through Payson and into Phoenix from the west.

Did I say “scenic route”?  I guess I did.  It certainly was!  And, the temperature just kept rising and rising, all the way into Phoenix.

The road was windy, twisty, up and down.  The car started to get grumpy during this last stretch – at least the transmission did.  It downshifted when it wasn’t supposed to, and at one point, refused to upshift when it was supposed to.

Eric drives the last stretch, focussed intently, both hands on the wheel, 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock!

Every time we came around a mountain or over a pass, we expected to see the city.  It sure took a long time before we saw Phoenix.

Once we entered the city, Eric was like a machine – he knew exactly where he was going.  Some of his best friends’ parents have units in this same complex.  We arrived around supper time.

All this photo proves is that I made it – Eric is taking the picture!

In the picture of me and the car at the complex, you can see a black Pontiac behind me.  Shortly after we arrived, and while we were still unloading our stuff, a young fellow was fussing about in the engine compartment, talking to his buddy on his iPhone and waving a part in front of the camera, asking his friend if it was important.  I wandered over and asked if I could have a look.  It was the pulley from the power steering pump, broken clean off!  Worse, everything on this engine, air conditioning, alternator, and the water pump, appears to run off of that same serpentine belt.  The fellow was some upset when I advised him that although the power steering pump wasn’t all that important, some of the other stuff that the belt was driving was important, and the car should not be driven.

Eric chatted with that fellow, Darnell, later.  It turns out that he’s from Los Angeles, was working in a warehouse for the Fresh-n-Easy grocery store chain, and was laid off.  He’s out here at a relative’s place, looking for work.  He has a little girl back in LA that he’s trying to support.  Yikes.  I hope he finds something.

Anyway, we arrived, moved the junk indoors, and went out for pizza.  We got zero service at the Pizza Hut take-out store, so we just bought a bunch of fixins at Fry’s and made it ourselves.  Then crashed, well past time to rest.

Postscript: a week later, that black car hasn’t turned a wheel. 

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