Friday, March 16, 2007

Car Talk

Friday, March 16 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

My car is quiet today. It hasn't said a word since...yesterday.

Over the past week, though, it has been incredibly and disturbingly vocal.

Just as my physical vehicle has been eloquently pointing things out to me in recent weeks (see Body Talk), my automotive vehicle has been similarly insistent.

No more subtle tuggings on the steering wheel, indicating where to go or which way to turn. Either its voice has matured or my intuitive system isn't quite as responsive these days.

It all began a week ago...

With Texas behind me, California beckons. A little R&R by the sea, I think. And after a quick stop in Sedona, I head south and west toward San Diego.

I'm on I-10 when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the car begins to rattle. It's one of those frustrating car things: it only rattles when I'm driving but, while driving, I can't tell where the rattle is coming from...other than it seems to be coming from the interior front.

When you drive a minivan filled with most of your worldly goods (some of which occasionally rattle), the first thing to do is secure anything that might be loose.

I do that.

The rattle, just to be contrary, grows louder.

By the time I get to San Diego, I'm rattled, concerned that something is serious wrong with the car.

San Diego, in the throes of March Break Madness, rattles me even more. Neither rested nor relaxed, I leave the next day, determined that if the rattle continues, I'll return to Sedona and have my car-expert friend Larry give it a listen.

It does, and I do.

And then it doesn't.

Once Larry is in the car, my Mercury makes a faint, half-hearted rattle then falls silent, never to rattle again (other than a faint, half-hearted rattle on the way out of Sedona the following day).

I could say that Larry's very presence stilled the rattle. And maybe that's true. He is pretty powerful.

I could also say that the car was making certain I returned to Sedona. Given all the emotional energy I've been working with around my former wife, who lives in Sedona (see Heart Open Wide), I'm guessing that as soon as the car got me to Sedona, it shut up, its primary aim having been achieved.

Once having tasted power, though, my Mercury seems reluctant to give it up.

Cut to yesterday.

I'm heading for Santa Fe after a powerful visit to Chaco Canyon. My plan is to take an indirect, potentially more scenic route and still arrive in Santa Fe in time to pick up my mail.

As I bump along the unpaved road out of the National Park, my Mercury sounds a warning chime. "Check tire pressure," the instrument panel proclaims.

Check tire pressure? These are brand-new tires!

Anxiously, I make my way to a more major road and stop at the first service station. My front passenger tire is low and I refill it.

Nervously, I drive on, watching the instrument panel for a repeat warning. None comes. But when I reach the intersection of Hwy. 550 and Hwy. 96, concerned about driving unpopulated back roads with an iffy tire, I choose the route of caution and take Hwy. 550, the more direct road toward Santa Fe.

Once again, it seems, Auto Knows Best.

As direct as Hwy. 550 is, it takes much longer than I expect (Hwy. 96 would have likely doubled my travel time and returned me long past my UPS Store's closing time). It's also infinitely more stunning than I could have imagined. As well, it carries me past the Sandia Mountains, which have been calling to me in recent days.

I arrive in Santa Fe, refreshed by the beauty, activated by the mountain energies and in plenty of time for mail pickup and dinner.

Truly, Auto Knows Best.

P.S. The tire-pressure warning has not reappeared.

Photos by Mark David Gerson: #1 Near Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; #2 Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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