When I wrote part 2 of Life in the Slow Lane, I wasn’t envisioning there would be a part 3 to that particular story, but Oshkosh b’gosh, there is! Last Saturday I headed out to track and hopefully monitor “my” two parent-reared “chicks”, 30-17 and 72-17. Tracking is finding them. Monitoring is actually having eyes on them and recording what they’re doing, who they’re doing it with, and what habitat they’ve chosen to do it in.
Anyway, back to last Saturday morning. I got to about 1 mile short of the marsh where both chicks were released and suddenly the dashboard started to beep and the engine light came on. These were NOT the beeps I was hoping for! I studied the various gauges and saw that the temperature was pegged on the high side – overheating. No one was behind me so I safely slowed way down and noticed that the temperature came right down and both the engine light and the beeps shut off. I was going about 15 mph. I experimented a bit by speeding up, but as soon as I did, the temperature would rise, and as soon as I slowed back down, it would drop. With no traffic I was able to make it slowly to the marsh parking lot. I pulled in, shut the truck off, and texted Joe.
I explained what had happened and how the truck seemed driveable at a very slow speed. His first question was “did you check the fan belt?” “HAHAHAHAHA” was my first reply; “hold on, I’ll go look” was my second. My brain was reaching back to my twenty-something years when I would actually open the hood of a car and recognize the parts when I got the hood open. The fan belt looked, well, like a rubber belt. He asked, “so it looks intact?”, to which I replied, “yes”.
We both thought that it was pretty weird that I could control the temperature by speeding up and slowing down, but based on that, we came to the conclusion that maybe I could take the back roads and limp back to Berlin, where our mechanic is located. Yes, with an aging “fleet” of vehicles, we have come to consider Barry at Berlin Oil “OUR mechanic”.
So that’s what I did – cruised along at a blistering 15-20 mph all the way back to Berlin. It was actually a really peaceful ride – just taking it easy, able to look around at the pretty autumn foliage, the rolling fields, and Google Maps to find a route that stayed off the main roads.
Barry came out, opened the hood, took a sniff, and said “you’re leaking antifreeze – I can smell it.” He took the key and I unloaded all my gear while I waited for Joe to pick me up: jacket, wind pants, radio receiver, yagi antenna, camera, binoculars, loaf of bread, jars of peanut butter and jelly, coffee mug, and purse.
It’s Thursday as I write this and the dang truck is still not fixed – Barry had to order a part that, as of yesterday afternoon, still hadn’t come in. I think we all thought that monitoring birds would somehow be less costly than ultralight migrations, but that has not turned out to be true – everyone needs a vehicle because the birds have been released “all over the place”, and every vehicle is driven more miles every day to locate birds than when we drove them from one migration stop to the next. That means more fuel and more breakdowns. Go figure!
Meanwhile, I’m taking it easy while I wait for someone to come back to camp with a truck I can take to find 30 and 72.
OH! One tidbit I meant to work into my story – I broke my personal record the other day for seeing the most Whooping Cranes (not in captivity) in one day! 11 !!! In a single day I saw the 7 costume-reared colts, Henry and Johnny (5-12 and 30-16), AND (drum roll please) The Royal Couple (4-12 and 3-14)!