It died in the Methow Valley Community Center parking lot.
My ordinarily reliable 2005 Honda CRV, which I bought in 2007 when it was a mere youngster, has suffered some indignities — most recently a catalytic converterectomy on the mean streets of Seattle — and wears a few scars from nearly 200,000 miles of mostly indulgent use. It gets regular maintenance, and more complicated repairs when it needs them.
I’m not sure what the little SUV was telling me when it refused to respond after I returned with a load of books from the Twisp library, other than “I will never start again unless you do something appropriate, and soon.”
That was going to take some initiative and ingenuity, it turned out, because this is the Methow, where everything can be a little bit harder.
Some background: For a week or so, the Honda had been starting sluggishly, but still turned over eventually. Until one morning it didn’t. I hauled out the battery charger I always carry (best $50 I ever spent) and with the help of my landlord Lyle, we got ’er going again.
Next stop: Quality Lube, where I opted for a new battery even though the old one still showed plenty of life, because further diagnostics would get a lot more complicated. That worked, until a few hours later, when it did not. The car started in the TwispWorks parking lot, an encouraging sign, but the short trip to the library was the final blow. Click click click, then not even that.
The battery charger was no use. News reporter Marcy Stamper and a helpful citizen in the library parking lot assisted me in rigging up my heavy-duty jumper cables to Marcy’s car, but that was equally futile.
It was after 5 p.m. and the Honda was not going anywhere, so I grabbed some things from the car and walked home, about a mile away on West Twisp Avenue. In the morning I walked to work, with an itinerary:
Call AAA to set up a tow. Have AAA call Classic Towing. Wait with the car for Ty Welborn and his assistant (a nice young man whose name I didn’t catch) to show up with the really big rig — one of the flatbeds they winch the vehicle up on. Walk the three blocks to Quality Lube while Ty towed the Honda the same distance. Chat with the nice folks at Quality Lube, who are swamped with work these days, to get an idea about when they could take a peek under the hood.
It was probably going to be a while, they said, and would require some mechanical archeology to uncover the culprit.
So I was pedestrian in Twisp, which is not bad if you live and work here and are marginally ambulatory, but otherwise challenging if you had someplace else to be.
I did, so I next resorted to every disadvantaged motorist’s essential resource — I got on the Google and typed in “rental cars in Okanogan County.” And up popped Sunrise Chevrolet in Omak, where a helpful young man named Aaron was ready to set me up right away with a reasonably priced rental, if only I could get there.
As serendipity would have it, the News’ office and sales manager Tera Evans was headed over the Loup on a vital errand: to buy Halloween decorations for the newspaper office. OK, she had other things to do, but she was able to drop me off at Sunrise, where Aaron explained how the starter fob works on these newfangled modern cars and I motored back to the valley in a clean and comfortable Malibu.
A few days later, sooner than I expected, Tina from Quality Lube called to say that they had started working on some of what she called “the dead ones” — the forlorn, immobile vehicles parked around the shop — and that they had concluded that it was a non-starting starter causing all the trouble, and they could fix that right away.
Excellent, but what to do with the Malibu? Apply a little Methow moxie. I checked the TranGO schedules and determined that if could drop the Chevy off in time at Sunrise, I could catch a bus at next-door Mid-Valley Hospital that would take me to the transit station in Okanogan, where I could catch a bus to Twisp and be back in the valley before 5 p.m. And that’s what I did. It was easy, convenient and the cheapest thing I did all day ($2 in total fares).
When there’s a will, there literally is a way — and people to help.