Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gremlins: Nibbling The AT Section 2 Part 1

Nothing beats setting out on an adventure. It was 8am on a mid-May Saturday and I was headed to the AT for a second dose, Lee to Cheshire MA. It was all part of my master plan to hike the 2,134 mile trail, nibble by nibble. I was unreasonably happy considering the ungodly hour. My cup of tea steamed merrily. Illuminating things were discussed on NPR and I hummed down the road in my old Mercedes, enraptured and smiling, completely unaware of the gremlins.

After an hour, I arrived in Cheshire and began looking for the rendezvous point. I slowed as the stoplight ahead turned yellow and the Mercedes started to growl. Sometimes the adventure begins earlier than expected. I had to keep my foot on the brakes, the light was turning red. But the growl turned into a metallic yowl. It sounded like the car’s shoulder joint had just prolapsed, but we stopped. Palms sweating profusely, I clutched the steering wheel. Shivers ran up and down my spine. The light turned green. I was certain the wheel was going to fall off but I managed to pull over before that happened. I wanted to vomit.

I know human shoulders don’t prolapse (they dislocate) but a car’s anatomy works differently. This is not to say I'm well versed in vehicular anatomy, but it didn't seem to me like “The tight-rod end’s gasket bearings were wearing on the U-joint” and to say so would smack of falseness. No, it felt like a prolapsed shoulder. And the accompanying soundtrack would have had my fingers flying for the cell phone, but I didn't own one.

Instead I marched to a bank and asked to use the phone. I called my stalwart hiking buddy Tara. She agreed to relocate the rendezvous location and meet at my car. In the end we had a tough choice to make. Should we hike or stick by the car in her moment of need? For those of you who belong to the car equivalent of PETA, I suggest you close your eyes while reading the next paragraph.

We abandoned the vehicle. A car is just a machine. It is a means to and end. When it ceases to be such, it is of no further use. I work hard at being callous and endeavor to maintain a meanness of spirit which allows me to make cold, tough and efficient decisions. Watching the Mercedes disappear behind us I was once again giddy with AT anticipation.

[Stay tuned for Part 2, when we actually set foot on trail and find out if I ever see my beloved Mercedes again. For those of you who crave details, it's a 1982 240D, four cylinders, manual transmission - diesel. P.S.We set out to hike section 2 on 5/30/08.]


  1. Hi annie,
    Nice blog, we discovered it at the hiking blogs site where our blog was just recently posted as well. Wish there was an email to contact you, but this'll do. Check out our site and maybe you'll be our follower as well! Till then, keep up the great writing.

  2. Dan,
    An "Email Me" button is now top on my list! Thank you. Sounds like you have some wild adventures ahead. I look forward to reading about them. I already got one great tip from your blog. My new motto is, "when in doubt post a picture of a goat." Love it.

  3. Thanks for the shout out, Annie! Yeah, gotta keep up on the visuals! And there's plenty of weird things about New Hampshire to take pictures of. Looking forward to Part 2. Your poor car!