Written Friday, September 13:
So I’m considering changing the name of this blog to “In Search of Rodents.”
A couple of days ago, I got off work and took off the infernal uniform and got in my car to head down the hill, to fetch a pail of water (but not really, actually I wanted a new car battery and free wireless at the library.) I immediately noticed that something was terribly wrong with my car, which I hadn’t driven for three or four days. It was idling jerkily and rough, it sounded horrible in general, and the check engine light had gone from its normal, soothing state of ‘on’ to a concerning state of constant flashing.
So I was panicking a little bit as I coasted down the hill into Fruita, but at the same time, the great thing about my personality is that I love it when things aren’t boring, so the idea that at any moment my car might dramatically die on one of the Monument’s steep and beautiful switchbacks was sort of pleasantly exciting. However, it did not, and I made it to the Valvoline Oil Change Express Care place by the City Shitty Market. Whereupon, I asked this guy working if he could plug in the diagnostic thingie and figure out why my check engine light was going nuts.
So there was the code I knew about (the tiny evap leak that I just ignore; the Subaru dealer as good as told me to) and then there was a misfire on cylinder two. This, of course, was the issue. (Everything I know about cars I learned when something stopped working. Luckily I have had plenty of crappy or just old cars, most especially the little sedan we bought in New Zealand, and so I am learning lots.)
The guy (I wish I knew his name, but we’ll call him Seth; he was near my age and reasonably attractive) was like, “Well, lots of things could be causing a misfire, and a lot of them we can’t fix here, but why don’t we open up the hood and see if it’s something obvious.”
So I popped the hood and got out of the car and came around to look too.
In this way, I got an excellent view of the enormous pack rat’s nest constructed atop my engine: a snug, architectural feat of webbing, and plant matter, and pieces of fabric and the inside of my vehicle.
“Well,” I said. “I guess that’s something obvious.”
The pack rat had chewed off a section of one of the spark plug cables and woven it artistically into the wall of its very large nest. As Seth and I surveyed the handicraft, the other three dudes working came over to check it out as well. I was sort of delighted by the whole thing.
“Hey, is that a cactus?” one of the guys asked. He leaned in toward the engine and gingerly extracted what, yes, was an entire baby prickly pear cactus. He held it up and we all took a look.
“Well, we can fix this,” Seth said. “You wanna run next door and buy some new cables? We can replace them.”
So I went next door to the Auto Parts place and purchased a box of spark plug cables, and then the four of them, working as a comfortable and jokester-y team, proceeded to extract the nest and then efficiently replace the spark plug cables as well as my battery (my purpose in Fruita in the first place), and, at my request, explained what they were doing as they went along. They charged me the price of the battery and that was it. They are my heroes.
My car is now de-ratted, my house appears to be de-moused, and we’ll see what happens next. Perhaps I’ll wake up one morning to find myself spooning a capybara.
In other news, in case you haven’t heard, Colorado is being hit by torrential rain this week. The Front Range is flooding, and even here, in the supposed desert, we’re breaking rainfall records and muddy waterfalls are coursing throughout the park. Yesterday I helped with traffic control when the water sent some enormous chunks of rock down onto the road, buckling the pavement. Monday and Tuesday I camped with Mike in the San Juan mountains near Silverton, and it rained there as well – which only created beautiful low-lying clouds in the mountains, a fitting backdrop to our first ever try of Rocky Mountain Oysters (I honestly thought I would like them, but nope, not a big fan of fried testicles it turns out) and our sighting of an enormous bull moose.
So basically, whether I’m searching for water or rodents this week, I’m being very successful.