“screw it! Let’s just go around; take the scenic way back. Well catch a ferry over to Edmonds and drive back from there.” We agreed.
This is about the time when the going got tough. The water temp gauge of my engine spiked and the warning light flashed angrily. We could smell coolant so we pulled over to inspect under the hood. It must have happened when the car was cool because there was no plume of steam as we popped the hood open. Surveying the engine cavity, it took no time to see the problem. A hose burst! It wasn’t a small leak, the hose had a 1 inch tear lengthwise on a straight section. It was destroyed, and it was the Aorta as far as the coolant was concerned, its job to take coolant from the pump into the engine.
If I had a hose, it would be an easy fix but we were in the middle of nowhere on the Washington coast. As a mechanic, my mind raced; I evaluated options to find a fix. Once again, we turned to the emergency kit I had. I shifted everything inside to find the most applicable things from within. I pulled out the mylar space blanket, the 2 feet of duct tape they give you (not enough for anything) and a handful or more of small black zipties. I went to work on the hose like a surgeon. Leaning over the patient in a flurry of hand gestures and grunts I attempted a repair. It wasn’t pretty, but I Had hoped it would work. I wrapped the space blanket around the cut as tight as I could and secured that with duct tape. The tape didn’t want to stick because the area was wet and slimy with coolant. I put as many zipties as the hose could support… or as many as I had. It was bristling with ziptie tails and the shine of the space blanket barely escaped the ziptie-density of a blackhole.
We continued our journey. The engine quickly overheated as we didn’t have any fluid to put in it. The Golf struggled through the landscape of small rolling hills and occasional climbs. The ignition system struggled to maintain a clean burn, causing it to ‘ping’ as we climbed even small hills. We had to stop several times along the way to let it cool down. We pressed on, not wanting to be stranded on the peninsula. Just as we pulled in to Port Angeles, we pulled over to let it cool.
I popped the hood open and supported it, the hood prop rod was hot to the touch. I did it quickly. We were going to be here for a while because the engine extremely hot. The heat radiated off the engine as it would The Sahara. We each opened a beer from our cooler.
“Aha! We can pour bear and ice and the melted water in”
As we awkwardly lifted the cooler up to pour the ice water in the reservoir, a cube fell onto the engine. I was astonished as the entire cube turned into steam in a matter of seconds. It was definitely a hot engine. We took turns cracking open a beer and pouring it in, drinking some while we waited for the other. When we ran out, or it couldn’t hold anymore, we enjoyed the last beers to ourselves, sprawled out on the cooler, waiting for the engine to cool down.
We played it cool as the Sheriff pulled in behind us. Uhoh! He got out and approached us. As twenty somethings, being approached by the police was never a good thing. He was polite and asked if we needed a tow, we explained the situation and our goal of taking the ferry back home.
“seems like you fellas got this under control. No drinking and driving, be safe”
He sauntered back to his cruiser then pulled away. I was so relieved. I’m sure to have wiped my brow by this point. The beer was refreshing on this hot summer afternoon, my car might agree. After this rest, we were able to make it to the ferry and back home.
I fondly remember this adventure my best friend and I took. There was plenty of misfortune, but we bonded as friends. And we had our margaritas on the beach as the last glimpse of the sun set beyond the horizon. This adventure was a catalyst. It by in large kicked off an annual camping trip which my best friend now organizes. The locale of activity has migrated east to the woods of Montana now. But the road trip is as much a part of the adventure as it was on our fateful journey around The Olympic Peninsula.