Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gone Bamboo Saguaro

Sorry for the lack of updates this week, but y'all are gonna have to somehow deal with it--There won't be anything more posted until probably next Monday at the earliest.

I'm still here in Vegas, for now, but in my head, I'm already in Phoenix at the Jimmy Buffett concert. It's about four in the morning now, and although I can't sleep, I have to force myself to do so--I've got a long drive ahead of me this afternoon.

Last night, I got a few last-minute chores done. I gassed up the truck, and then also did a few things like top off the air in the tires and water in the radiator, checked the oil, etc., in preparation for the trip.

I know a few things about vehicular maintenance, but I feel like I got jacked by the crooks down at Ted Wiens Auto Center the last time I was there. Basically, I got my oil changed and my tires rotated, along with a 'free' inspection. They told me that my brakes needed 'adjustment' very soon and offered to do it for me right then, to the tune of somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred bucks or two. But at the time, the truck only had about 18K miles on in, so I knew they were full of shiat.

When they finished up, I pretty much decided that I wouldn't go back to them, I kinda felt like they were being a little crooked. But then I noticed that it was taking longer to slow down and it didn't seem, suddenly, like my brakes were working as well as they should've been. Also, I noticed a slight shimmy in the rear tires right at 40 mph, but only when it was cold.

I figured that once I got a few extra bucks after the move and such, I'd take it in to a different garage and have a more honest mechanic look at it. I also noticed these past few weeks that my tires would chirp much more easily than usual, and would squeal at almost any speed going around corners. And it's not like I've got the monster Magnum engine in it--it's the 210 hp 'mini-magnum', which has plenty of power for my needs, but it's not a fire-breather by any means.

So upon closer inspection the other day, I noticed that my tires looked a bit underinflated. I figured that had a lot to do about it, but holy shiat, I had no idea how much. While I was out last night I stopped and got a new tire gauge and checked each one. Each one only had 19 pounds of air! WTF? I *know* they had more than that before I took it to Ted Wiens, so I'm guessing they deflated my tires a bit, trying to drum up business. I can't prove it, but that's what it looks like to me.

I know that 19 pounds of air ain't nearly enough--I worked as a tire-buster for about six months back in the days before I left for college, and 90% of the cars and trucks we serviced needed 32 lbs. of pressure at a minimum. And big as day, right there on the door pillar, the manufacturer's recommendation says my truck should have 35 lbs of air in each tire.

So I found a coin-operated air pump and spent several minutes re-inflating my tires, and I swear, the difference is like night and day. The brakes work fine, the tires don't squeal, and I'm guessing the 10% drop-off in gas mileage will come back (I attributed it to never driving on the freeway anymore).

Anyhow, after that little mystery had revealed itself and was taken care of, I treated myself to a little sensory preview of the next few days. It was Taco Tuesday at Rubio's, and their totally awesome fish tacos were only a buck and a quarter. I had to take advantage.

But it got better from there. I was sitting there in the dining room, with a huge saltwater fish tank next to me, tropical music playing overhead, reading Bourdain's travel adventures, and munching on some excellent Baja-style Mexican food. I was in my happy place. And once I got back out to my truck, I had the iPod plugged in and set on the 'Brother Jimmy' playlist which serenaded me while I did all of my running around.

Did I mention that I can't wait to get to Phoenix?

I'm gonna leave around noon or so, and roll into Ed's place sometime around five or six. We're gonna spend the evening having a nice dinner, several cocktails, and a good cigar or two. On Thursday, we'll do a little pre-gaming before heading to the concert, but then early in the evening, about three hours before the show starts, we're meeting up with the whole gang--about 15 of us, for a little tailgating and tequila. Then I'm sure I will embarrass myself for a couple more hours by singing along with brother Jimmy, loudly and off-key. And dancing like nobody is watching, of course.

On Friday, I'm driving down to the other end of town and hanging out with Eddie B all day, and then that night we're having steaks on the grill at George and Marlisha's place (aka Big Stogie and Big Tips). I believe the plan for the rest of the night involves several bottles of wine and a few cigars, hanging out in the pool.

On Saturday, we all make the trek back up to Ed W's place for another BBQ/pool party, which will probably be the point where I finally reach total relaxation. On Sunday morning, I make the trek back to Vegas, sleep all day, and then work again that night.

Anyhow, even though I'm still here for the next few hours, I'm really looking forward to being there for the next few days.


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