Tuesday, September 18, 2007

LA update

First things first -- I got a place lined up. Hooray! It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. Upper end of my price range, five miles from campus, but decent. Theoretically bikeable to UCLA (previous tennants have done it), so let's see how my ambitions hold up.

Which, of course, means I have successfully made it to LA. Hooray! I drove down to LA a few days ago, packing all (well, much of) my worldly belongings in a truck. Fortunately, my friends K & T had been planning a road trip to the LA area as well, so they joined up with me and I had some company on the way down. Pleasant enough trip for the most part; K & T are awesome folk, and it was great to not be alone the whole way (even if -- since we had to take two cars -- there were periods of solitude). We had only one real hitch, although it nearly proved disastrous.

This is T, fooling around before the true nature of our looming crisis was made evident.

We had just recently made a brief stop in Tracy, CA (note, if you will, the remaining distance of our route -- 352 miles! -- which is relevant) to pick up some gas. I filled up the truck and looked over at T, who had been driving my car and (what with its much smaller gas tank) should have been done with filling the tank well before me. For some reason, though, he was still at the pump. And, while T (witness picture above) clearly has issues figuring out how to use self-service gas pumps, it's not that hard. I walked over to see what was the matter and learned that the key wouldn't turn in the ignition and that the steering wheel was locked. I didn't trust him, of course, and tried to start the car myself. No dice. So, to be polite, we pushed the car out of the way (into a handicapped space -- the steering wheel was locked!) and proceeded to continue jiggling the key in the lock. For another 20 minutes.

Well, crap. We finally realize that, delay be damned, we were going to have to call a mechanic. Who told us to call a locksmith. I tried a couple locksmiths before finding one who did cars. Who told me that this was an occasional problem with my particular model of car, and that I would have to take it into the Toyota dealer. Yerk. I called the dealer who said, sure! they'd be happy to look at it, if I got it towed in to them and waited 'till Monday. This was on Saturday. Remember the 352 miles remaining in our trip? This would have meant having us all crowd into the truck (seats only two!) for the remainder of the trip, and then I would have had to somehow get all the way back up to Tracy to pick up my car and then drive back down. Adding an extra 700 miles to my trip (and taking at least a day out of my apartment hunt). Yuck!

But we had no choice, so I called up a towing service and told them our predicament. I told the driver what the problem was, and what does he do? He sits down in the driver's seat and starts trying to jiggle the key. T & I roll our eyes (K, smartly enough, is in the truck taking a nap at this point). Then he takes a Leatherman and starts beating on the key, which makes me ever-so-slightly nervous. Finally, he sprays some WD-40 in the lock, swabs out a bunch of grease with the key, and starts the car up with no problem. Apparently, one of the tumblers in the lock had gotten stuck and just needed to be cleaned out. Grateful, and now running three hours late (but, in a positive light, only three hours late), K, T, and I resumed our trip. And we never took the key out of the ignition for the rest of the trip.

Below: the three of us and K's friend (the rightmost), with whom we stayed the first evening, mere hours before the incident. Also, a picture of a wind farm that we passed on the way.


  1. Hey!

    Glad you guys all made it down there safe and that you found a place to live in a relatively short period of time. That's amazing!

    As far as the thing with the car, I always keep a can of WD-40 in mine for that same exact purpose. It's somewhat unnerving the first time it happens though. Sorry it had to happen while you were roadtripping.

    Aren't those windfarms sweet? There are several in and around Wyoming, near where I grew up. I always thought they were very cool looking.

    Send us some pics of your place when you get all moved in. Glad to hear all is going well!

    Talk to you soon!

  2. Yeah, I'm happy I found a place, too. I actually looked at it and told them I wanted it my first day of looking, so it was pretty serendipitous.

    I also now have a can of electrical cleaner sitting on the floor of the passenger's seat, in case the lock starts acting up again.

    Yeah, the wind farms are awesome. I started seeing windmills from a ways off, and then they just never ended -- they went on for miles. Very cool.

    I'll keep you posted on developments in LA with -- I assure you -- many more pictures.

  3. I've heard, though I'm not sure, that the correct term for someone from Los Angeles is an "Angelino." Congrats on being the recipient of a vowel-heavy regional moniker!

    That wind farm is indeed awesome. Dorkily enough, they always remind me of SimCity, where I was so sick of having my power plants blow up that I would sometimes just stick a whole hill's worth of wind plants somewhere. It sometimes worked...

    You shouldn't be so hard on T... I remember the first time I used a self-service gas station and I had to ask for help. It was sort of embarrassing. His confusion, I think, is not uncommon amongst us Oregonians.

    More and more I think of stuff like this not so much as a problem, but as story fodder. Maybe it's because I'm blogging now, but when catastrophes and such happen I think to myself "Ooooh! Now I have a new story to tell!"

    Yes, pictures of LA, please! (And wow, look at those paragraph breaks...)

  4. As a matter of fact, as we drove away from the gas station I had an extended conversation with K, wondering if it was bad that I spent the entire three hours wondering how I was going to write this up in my blog. I suspect it's a somewhat common phenomenon among bloggers.

    I'm not being hard on Ted! I've had the exact same problems! In fact, two days ago, I had to apologetically ask a nearby motorist whether I was supposed to pay at the cashier before or after I pumped the gas.

    And don't worry, more pictures will be forthcoming. Today I drove out to the Kenneth Hahn recreation area, which is this park built in the middle of this old (but still operating) oil field, right in the middle of LA. Very weird, but pretty cool. Didn't get many good pictures, though.

    And congrats on the paragraph breaks.

  5. the road is fraught with danger, jedi