Car Noises You Don’t Want to Hear

My mother’s sister claimed that if everything goes as planned on a trip, it’s an excursion. If things don’t go as planned, it’s an adventure. And oh, am I having an adventure!

First, I got the stuttering starter fixed yesterday, and when I started the engine again a little later, the starter made a harsh grinding sound. So I went back to the mechanic. Apparently, he put in a heavy duty starter, one that’s wound differently than the old one, so it makes that harsh noise.

So, I packed the car and headed out. Everything went smoothly for the first hundred miles, then there was an odd rattling noise on the front passenger side. I stopped on the side of the highway, looked under the car, didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Got back in, same noise. Stopped again and rearranged things in the car in case something was rattling inside. Started up again. Same noise. I thought maybe a stone was rattling in the wheel well, so I sped up to as fast as the car could go, hoping to pulverize the rock. That worked. Whew! I certainly didn’t want to turn back after going all that way!

Everything was fine for about fifty miles, and then there was a horrible high pitched screech. I pulled off to the side of the highway, but couldn’t think of anything to do, so I started up again. No noise. Then about twenty miles later, the same screech. This time I was able to isolate the noise — my speedometer. It’s been acting up a long time — lubricant isn’t supposed to last 46 years, I guess — but generally on the highway in warm weather there was no problem, so I didn’t worry about getting it fixed. The thing kept screeching for about an hour, then it clunked and died. It feels odd driving without a speedometer, but since I generally drive in the slow lane, there shouldn’t be a problem. And after all this time, I certainly should be able to shift by the feel of the engine.

No more problems after that. I drove until sunset, then pulled into the first motel I found. I didn’t even know what town it was until a young woman at the gas station told me it was Chowchilla, famous for a horrible event — apparently on the 1970s some fellows kidnapped a school bus load of kids in Chowchilla and buried them in the quarry at Livermore.

I should be safe since it happened so long ago, but just in case you don’t hear from me again, suggest to someone that they should look for me in the Livermore quarry.

See you on down the road. I hope.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Unfinished, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

Eureka! The Adventure Begins!

Today I purchased a one-way Amtrak ticket to Eureka, CA. I’ll be leaving Wednesday morning to fulfill my New Year’s resolution to visit a dear online friend, who also happens to be my very first fan. I can hardly wait!

I used to worry about meeting people in person that I only knew online, but I have learned that there is barely a blip of uncomfortableness. If one is honest and tells their truth online, that truth translates to offline life, and this friend and I have always told our truth. (And anyway, she loves all my books. How can I not like her?)

trainAlthough I’d recently made a decision to head out via bus or train if my car wasn’t finished by the time I ran out of housesitting jobs, I didn’t think I’d be following through since a couple of opportunities for a place to stay seemed viable. But neither place worked out. So, here I am, ready to set out on an adventure. Truth be told, it’s not much of an adventure, more of a straightforward trip. I have a ride to the station here, and a ride to my friend’s place on the other end, but still, it’s a step into the unknown. I am so looking forward to finally heading out, to stop talking about doing something and actually . . . do something.

In case you’re wondering why the one-way ticket . . . I’m planning on coming back, of course, but since I have no place to stay around here while I’m waiting for my car, I won’t be buying a return ticket until a) the car is finished; b) my friend gets sick of me; or c) a different adventure calls.

I’ll be wearing my new hiking shoes and carrying my new backpack, just in case things don’t work out as planned and I have to hoof it. (As one of my mother’s sisters used to say, if things work out as planned, it’s an excursion. If things don’t work out, it’s an adventure.) I’d planned to take Jeff’s ashes with me when I went to visit this friend, but I thought I’d be driving. Carrying his ashes aboard a train is not the sort of memorial I had in mind. Amtrak is not exactly a sacred vessel, and besides, I’ll have enough stuff to carry. So saying my final goodbyes will have to wait.

I’ll have my phone with me as well as my backup battery pack to make sure I can blog occasionally and let you know how I’m doing.

Let the adventures begin!


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.