January 4, 2004

The Poconos

Well, we really had no plans to update this web site. I mean, after all, it couldn't possibly be as interesting a trip as doing it in a 30-year-old Alfa Romeo, right? I mean, a trip in a new Saab is merely driving, right?

So we finished packing and headed off around 10am. We knew that the first day would be a bore—we were familiar with all the roads and it was just a question of getting them behind us. Stopped for lunch at a sports bar near Danbury, just before the crowds started arriving for the Sunday afternoon football frenzy. Stayed on I-84 across New York and into Pennsylvania, where we decided to take a more scenic route down along the Delaware River.

But just as we got off the highway, we heard a loud metallic scraping noise from under the car. As luck would have it, there was a service station at the bottom of the ramp, so we pulled in. The "mechanics" there (a couple of kids barely old enough to drive) saw us pull in and said they saw the exhaust heat shield dragging. That wasn't what it sounded like to me, but we got it up on the lift. Listening to the "mechanic" driving it in, it sounded like a couple hundred pounds of scrap metal were being dragged behind it!

The heat shield was fine, but the left front wheel made a horrendous sound when it spun. Sounded like a pebble had simply wedged itself between the brake rotor and the dirt shield. Then the "mechanics" reported that their boss had locked up all the tools and they didn't have a lug wrench to remove the wheel. No problem, said I—we'll use the car's. Lowered the lift, opened the trunk, took out all our luggage, got the lug wrench, raised the lift, removed the wheel.

Sure enough, I could see the pebble in there, and all we needed was a screwdriver to pry the shield back a little to dislodge it. But all the tools were locked up. No problem, said I—I'd brought the tool kit from one of my Alfas. (Whew—I'd almost left it home, thinking I'd never need it with a new car.) Lowered the lift, opened the trunk, took out my tool kit, got the screwdriver, raised the lift, pried back the shield, prodded the pebble out, put the wheel back on, lowered the lift, and we were done. The guys said it was "on the house" (well, after all, I did all the work), but we gave 'em a good tip and were on our way.

Well, part of the attraction of our previous online road trips was that, with an old Alfa Romeo, there's always that element of risk that something's gonna go wrong. Guess we learned that you don't need an old Alfa Romeo. In any event, we'll not bore you with every-day tourist stuff if we can help it, and these pages will probably be updated only sporadically.

So here we are in the Poconos and we haven't seen a single heart-shaped bed yet. Whatta let-down. Tomorrow—down the Skyline Drive maybe?

Back to the Road Trip 2004 title page