The Eye of the Dragon | A Traveling Light

IMG_1192With Pamela Boehm / Lama Foundation

IMG_1183Pema, Joe and Megan / Lama Foundation

IMG_1150In Flagstaff with Kenna, Wheeler park

IMG_1153Downtown Flagstaff

IMG_1158Sunrise in Albuquerque / We find everything on the way

IMG_1161Downtown Albuquerque

IMG_1175In Santa Fe, NM

IMG_1172My friend Roark Barron’s House in Santa Fe

IMG_1174Roark Playing his harp at the plaza

IMG_1169Roark’s unique house. His Home page.

IMG_1176Sunset in Santa Fe

IMG_1201Hanuman Temple, Taos, NM

IMG_1204Saying goodbye to the Rio Grande

IMG_1211Santa Fe NM Spanish Crafts Fair

IMG_1220Tucson, AZ


The Unexpected | Car Trouble | Are there Honest Mechanics? | Absolute Transmission, Flagstaff, AZ

It was to be my first day on the road again, heading to Second Mesa from Sedona. After leaving my campsite along 89A (Forest Road 535-mile 391), I decided to stop briefly in Flagstaff, at the library, to check my email etcetera. I had noticed a slight difficulty getting into 5th gear but didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. I entered the parking lot, going against traffic by mistake. And my chevy cavalier refused to go in reverse. Luckily the two cars that were coming in the right direction were able to get in reverse, and I was able to follow them and get out.

By chance, I found a hostel (hostels know everything) and I was shown in a map where I could find Randy Chavez, a good mechanic who might be able to help me. I was really grateful because it is uncomfortable to drive around without reverse; it requires parking with strategy. It turned out that Randy didn’t work in transmissions but he knew somebody who might be able to help me. He directed me to Julie the manager of:

Julie Krall, service manager of Trans-mission man at 2109 E. 6th Ave. Flagstaff, AZ 928-774-2220

I explained my problem, and that I was on the road promoting my book with limited funds. She was quite concerned, but she was also up to her neck with work, so she couldn’t take my car. Nevertheless, she collected my information and started calling everybody she knew who might be able to help me. After taking the trouble of discussing my car’s condition with a couple of her colleagues, one of them decided to check my car to see how road worthy it was, for he would not be able to take it that day either. And that’s how I met Quentin:

Quentin Hicks, owner of Absolute / Transmissions and Auto repair . . . and absolute honesty! at 3747 Eagle Mountain Dr. Flagstaff AZ 928-552-6966

Now, Quentin got in the car, fiddle with the gear box for a little while and . . . put it in reverse! Then, we drove around a couple of blocks and he said: “It is not the transmission.” He added that the gear box, and maybe some cables, needed lubrication, and that’s why it had been stubborn. He said that I could keep driving it, although he advised me to get a new clutch soon because he didn’t like a particular sound that he was hearing.  

I figured that he was dead right because that clutch was exactly 100,000 miles old. But he said that I could keep going, or go back home and fix it later. They both wanted me to go back home (Julie mentioned it also when I went back to inform her) to get me out of harm’s way. I was considering  the idea myself, for I didn’t think that traversing the country with an old clutch, which was beginning to perish, was an intelligent thing to do. So I thanked Quentin for his help and went back to the library. 

But the idea of going back and leaving the trip unfinished was making me feel uncomfortable. Besides, that clutch had to be fixed soon anyway, so why not do it with an honest mechanic. How many mechanics do you know who’ll tell you: “You don’t have to do the work right now, go home.” I used to have a good mechanic in San Diego in a Midas shop, but he quit the position, and the last time I went there, the guy I talked to spewed out so many lies (to get me to fix things that I knew I didn’t need to fix) that I almost puked. So I decided to fix it, using most of my savings (clutches are expensive nowadays), and keep going. That’s what my savings were for anyway.

Quentin worked with me to get the job done in a day (I explained that I was camping in the forest), and soon I was on my way again to visit the Hopi Nation. I was really pleased about the way the car was cruising when, close to Winslow, my steering system started to make a disturbing grinding noise. I stopped at a mechanic in Winslow who wasn’t too concerned about the steering noise (the fluid was okay) but due to a stalling when I tried to start the car he advised me to change the starter soon; and he was quite busy at the moment. I figured the remaining of my savings would be soon gone.

Since I trusted Quentin I decided to go back the 50 miles to Flagstaff. Quentin got in the car and under the hood to check both: my steering and my starter. In about 15 minutes he said: “You are good to go.” The starter was okay he said, nothing wrong with it. The grinding noise, he said, was something these cars experience sometimes (he had two of them) but the steering system was okay, no problem.

That was about a week ago. I am in Santa Fe at the moment. No problem! and still have some savings. Hey, if you are ever close to Flagstaff, and in need of a mechanic, you know where to go.

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