It’s a bike repair Road Trip

It’s 6pm we’ve worked all day. The car is packed and we’re ready to go. Go where you say? Sacramento to repair an ELF trike for a 94 year old man. It does seem like a long ways to go, 536 miles to be exact just to fix a bike but he needs help. It’s our way of paying it forward. You see, the folks at helped us out. Even while on vacation the company’s owner said, “don’t worry, I’ll get you everything you need and when you get the parts call me back”. But you’re on vacation? His reply was, “don’t worry about it. I’ll give you step by step instructions on how to do this.” Omg a few days later the parts arrived. What a gracious guy. So tomorrow morning it’s Pay it Forward day.

By now, we’ve become almost experts at repairing these trikes. We even bought a fixer ELF to rebuild, but for now it gives us extra parts. We call her Miracle. It will be a Miracle if we ever get it running again.

At around noon, on Saturday. we plan on meeting Art, the 94 year old bike owner, his friend Tom who has internet and contacted us and Art’s daughter Nancy.

What’s really amaing is how this all started. Tom wrote a 200 word post on a closed ELF Facebook site, asking for help for his friend Art. Numerous people offered ideas and their expetise to fix the problem. But it was clear that even with all of the wonderful advice and suggestions this problem needed more of a hands on approach.

I have a soft spot for anyone who’s older and wants to be active. Even though we live 536 miles away I made Tom an offer. He talked it over with Art. So now it’s Friday night we were driving to Sacramento.

I’m not stranger to that drive. As a kid my family made the drive at least once a month sometimes twice a month. Dad would drive up from San Diego to Sacramento on Friday night after work and on Saturday morning he’d fix everything that had broken at the little rest home my Grandmother owned. Then on Sunday we’d drive home just in time for him to go to work, at 4am, Monday morning.

Sometimes Dad got too tired to drive. My Mom didn’t drive at all, so by the age of 10 or 11 I had learned to drive and was driving Hwy 99 for a couple of hours while Dad rested. Totally illegal! It was the straight lonely section of the highway and the only traffic were the huge semi trucks. You’d think as a 10 year old girl, I’d be intimidated driving our Ford Falcon next to the big semi trucks. But no I was always so excited that Dad had so much faith and confidence in me. I always felt like I was driving next to my Dad. You see that’s what Dad did for a living, he was a trucker.

Okay here’s a cute side story.  Dad only let me drive after midnight when there were fewer highway patrol officers out and about. It was a hot summer night. Dad was a sleep and Mom had nodded off for a second. I was doing probably 60-70 miles an hour, when I came up behind this tractor with a set of double trailers. I got so confused. It was snowing! I had never driven in snow. “Dad, Dad, wake up it’s snowing what do I do? He and my Mom woke up. They clear their eyes and try to focus and comprehend what I’m saying. Dad it’s snowing! It took a few seconds. Then Dad smiled and said,”it’s not snowing just go around the truck. Those are chicken feathers”. It seems I was following a truck load of chickens that were going to slaughter. Welcome to Livingston California the home of Foster Farms Chicken. At the age of 10 you’d think I’d be sad knowing the chickens were going to slaughter, but at that moment I was still recovering from driving in what I thought was a blizzard.

But here we are decades later, driving that same road. We’re still trying to get through LA. With a population of over 4 million traffic is moving fairly well. What a pleasant surprise. Did I just jinx it? Hope not!

I found a beautiful Casita through AirB and B for us to to stay in, but we decided not to take it. Depending on the LA traffic we didn’t know what time we’d get there or if we’d be to tired to get there, so we’re rolling the dice. Where will we sleep tonight? But the Adobe Casita was adorable and located in a winery. We’ll stay there the next time we are in the area.

We just passed Disneyland! Now all the movie studios, Griffith Park, and OMG the biggest IKEA I’ve ever seen!

Amazingly, we’ve only had to slam on the brakes once so far. That’s pretty good for LA traffic.

We just found the best bike lane ever. Oh wait it’s the car pool lane on the I-5. That’s right I’m in the car. But this carpool  lane does feel a little narrow.

Ahhh time for a tinkle break. We pull into the Denny’s at the Six Flags Magic Mountain exit. There’s always a Denny’s near the freeway in California. Now the to climb the Grapevine a mountain that got it’s name because of the winding switchback road it used to be. But now it’s cut across the mountain climbing to the elevation of more than 4,000ft in a very short time. Then it’s steep drive down into the central valley.

We chose to spend the night in an average hotel near the Fresno airport. We woke up early, ate our free hotel breakfast and we were on our way. We got hungry early and it was time to fuel up the car, so we grabbed lunch at a Costco that was just off the highway. This was a goodwill trip we are trying to keep the costs way down. The buck fifty hotdog from Costco may not be the healthiest lunch but since I packed lots of fruit and veggies to munch on during the drive, our food intake was fairly well balanced.

Wow, when I was a kid there was nothing but farm land as far as the eye could see. Now it’s strip malls restaurants and hotels, then farm land.  We text Tom. “we’re about an hour away.” He replies, “see you soon.”

As we turn the corner looking for the address. We see an open garage door. This was the house and there was the ELF bike in the garage. Before we could even get out of the car, Tom, Art’s daughter Nancy and Art were there to greet us, as if we were long lost family. What a welcome!

We managed to figure out what was wrong and boy was it confusing to us verteran ELF owners. No online help or phone calls could have fixed this bike’s problems. Then, we talked over the needed repairs with Art and Nancy, while Tom was cruising the neighborhood in the ELF. Yes, it was running, albeit on the parts we brought from home, but it was running for the first time in 3 years. Art had only riden it once after he took delivery before it stopped running, so this was monumental and brought smiles to all of us.

Now it’s time to eat! Art took us to a fantastic mexican dinner. After dinner it was time to say good-bye. We hugged like old friends and parted ways.

We drove over 1000 miles because of a 200 word post on Facebook that was reaching out for help, for a 94yr old man,  and now we have 3 new real friends.

On a side note, I encouraged my husband to make contacted with an old high school buddy who now lives in the Sacramento area. They had reconnected via Facebook just a year earlier. They were just Facebook friends the kind who just like your stuff, but you never see or talk to. Not this time. Once we got settled into our hotel, Chuck and his wife stopped by that evening. We sat and talked for hours in the hotel bar.

So now from a 200 word post on Facesbook, that was searching for help to fix a 94 yr old friends ELF bike. We now have 4 new friends and rekindled and old friendship. Isn’t life amazing when you reach out to help others. Life truely begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Now the drive home ugh! What do you mean the check engine light just came on! Just ignore it it will go away. And it did the next morning. I guess the car just burped.

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