After my scare with my emergency brakes in Grants and my unexpected refuge at Enchanted Trails in Albuquerque, New Mexico was already turning out to be full of extreme highs and lows. I ended up staying in Albuquerque over the weekend so I could get Betsy into a shop on Monday. A dear friend recommended Perfection Auto & Truck, and since they were quite close to where I was staying I decided to give them a try. They worked on Betsy all day, rebuilding my old drum brakes. Turned out I only had one fully functioning brake cylinder on the rear passenger side of Bets. The driver side rear cylinder was only working on one side, and the front two cylinders were completely locked up. I decided that this is probably exactly what my emergency credit card should be used for.
While I was sitting at a Starbucks down the road nervously waiting for Betsy to feel better, I received a message on Instagram from Tim. He said he has a shop north of Albuquerque where they worked on old cars and that I should stop by for a check up. Even though Betsy was already at the shop, something told me that I needed to do this. However, once I looked up the map, I realized Farmington was a three hour drive North West, directly in the opposite direction of where I was heading, East on Route 66 and then South to New Orleans.
I woke up early Tuesday morning and I dragged Betsy over the steep rolling hills of northern New Mexico to get to Four Corners Cool Customs where a stranger on the internet who said that he knew what he was doing was going to give Betsy a once over and send me on my way with renewed confidence about the rest of my trip.
At least that’s what I thought was going to happen.
I got to the shop and met Tim who got right to work. My uphill power struggles and my electrical issues were much bigger than a what a quick check up could cover so we did a quick valve lash adjustment and he showed me around the shop and we decided to call it a day. I decided I owed him a beer for his troubles and by the time we were done drinking, it was fairly late. So Tim graciously offered me a safe place to park Bets overnight at his place, all I had to do was follow him there.
As we got closer to his residence Betsy progressively lost power, at the point where I couldn’t get her to go faster than 30 mph. We had one last steep hill to conquer just down the road from his house and Betsy tapped out. Not even in first gear could we get her up the hill. We tried and tried and eventually we wore out the battery to the point where she wouldn’t even start. A quiet panic started to set in.
Tim, after towing Betsy and me up that damn hill, assured me that we would figure it out first thing in the morning. Tim offered a warm place for me to sleep in his house and dogs that I could cuddle all night for mental health reasons. I took him up on it even though I felt like a deer in headlights; stunned and helpless.
I slept for at most three hours that night. I woke up before the sun came up feeling even more helpless than the night before. I had no idea where I was, I had never heard of Farmington, New Mexico before. I didn’t know what was wrong with Betsy. I didn’t know if she was ever going to start again. I missed Long Beach. I missed my friends. I missed my family. At this point, my best case scenario included spending Thanksgiving alone in a Walmart parking lot somewhere in New Mexico eating ramen in the back of Betsy and I didn’t even know if that would happen now. I felt lost, scared, sad, alone and I had no idea how I would fix anything in my life at that point. Tears streamed down my face as watched one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen in my life.
Somehow I should have known that Betsy would never leave me stranded in a place I didn’t need be stranded in…