The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fear and Loathing in a 2004 KIA Optima

Posted on | August 31, 2012 | 25 Comments

The National Affairs Desk, McDonald’s in Ocala, 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31, 2012

OCALA, Florida
Ah, the ups and downs of life. Last night I was enjoying the hospitality in a skybox suite at the Republican National Convention. Tonight I’m wondering how I’ll make it home.

Ali and I left Tampa about 6 p.m., and everything seemed fine until the car started making a horrible noise and losing power. We stopped and had a mechanic look at it, but the garage was about to close — 7 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day — and there was no time for a repair. The mechanic diagnosed a problem either with the timing belt or the valves.

Can we drive it 900 miles with this problem? The mechanic shrugged. Sometimes, it’s OK. Sometimes, it’s not.

Ali said, “Let’s go. We can make it.”

Misery. Horror. Stress. Driving a car that’s obviously if need of expensive repairs, hundreds of miles from home, bone-tired after five days of convention coverage — and yeah, the bank balance isn’t looking too good, either.

I called my wife, cussing about this unexpected misfortune. 

Mrs. Other McCain suggested I stop cussing and start praying.

Good advice. I called Smitty. He was boarding a plane, preparing to travel to Germany with his wife and the World’s Youngest Blogger for a visit with his German in-laws. While we drove north up I-75, I called Zilla of the Resistance, and she was kind enough to put up a post asking for prayers and, of course, the Five Most Important Words in the English Language: Hit the freaking tip jar.

We’ve so far made it about 100 miles, but the psychological strain on top of the exhaustion — as I said to Ali, “Woodward and Bernstein didn’t have to deal with this kind of crap.” Neither, for that matter, do my close personal friends Brett Baier and Megyn Kelly, but never mind . . .

We’ll drive another hundred miles or so tonight and then find a motel. Your prayers are most earnestly requested. And your contributions to the Shoe Leather Fund are most sincerely appreciated.

UPDATE: Ali describes his GOP convention experience.

UPDATE II: Now linked by Da Tech Guy, William Hoge, Evil Blogger Lady, Bill Quick at Daily Pundit and Bob Belvedere at the Camp of the Saints.

Thank You, Everybody! (And Thank God)






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  • jlwellfonder

    Posted, tweeted, and HTFTJ! And I’ll keep praying as well! Chin up gents, you’ll make it home ok, thanks for your continuing coverage, lotsa coffee!

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    You’re just lucky that I hardly ever go anywhere and almost always answer my phone! Stay safe, Stacy, and keep the faith – it has never let you down before, I don’t think it will now.

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  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Posted! Prayers and help on the way.

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  • Adjoran

    Sounds like the timing belt, consult your owner’s manual for recommended replacement mileage, if you are close that is probably it. Valves would give gradually increasing symptoms – pinging – over time before failing, timing belts tend to just fail.

    It isn’t the cheapest part to replace in most cases, unfortunately.

  • PAcon12

    You probably know this already, but if that timing belt breaks while you’re riding down the highway, it could wreck the engine. I would strongly suggest looking for the nearest mechanic today (you’ve got a phone book at the hotel, right?), even if it’s at a *gasp* dealership, and getting that thing replaced. No reason to risk your $$$$ engine to save $$ by tring to make it home to your trusted mechanic.

    But what do I know…I’m just some random online commenter, who doesn’t even own a car! Either way, I’ll pray for your safe travels.

  • jwallin

    I think Hillary trying for the Ambassadorship of Vanuatu.

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  • Beto_Ochoa

    A guy who used to work in my machine shop got his ASE certification some years back and now has 50% stake in a garage and U-Haul rental. We trade machine work for mechanic time quite a bit and there has been at least a half dozen 2004-2006 Kia timing belt failures in his shop in the last month. When you start taking them apart you really see the difference between a Kia and a Hyundai. BTW, the timing belt usually needs replacing on an Optima at 60,000 mi.

  • SDN

    Stacey, listen to the man. Broken timing belts can wreck engines in a number of nasty ways, up to and including slinging a piston rod. Frankly, if the first guy you went to there didn’t make that clear, he needs to hang up his wrenches.

  • SDN

    OT: Wombat, your InstaPundit widget looks like it hasn’t updated for several days.

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  • Beto_Ochoa

    194,000!! Why didn’t you say so. If the Timing Belt is under 60,000 and at 194,000!! it’s probably a crank shaft sensor.

  • Red

    You’re an awesome friend Zilla and awesome friends usually make fierce opponents. I’d hate to be on your bad side 😉

    RSM and Ali: Tweeted, tipped, and prayed for by yours truly thanks to your alert!

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Thank you for the kind words!

  • Adjoran

    Well, in one way you are lucky: those little towns from Starke down to Ocala are notorious speed traps. Horrible. There is is one that is so bad a guy who got burned a few years ago bought billboards on either side of town to warn approaching drivers.

  • Wombat_socho

    More like a month or so, since the Blogfather’s RSS feed went splat. Smitty and I are working on a replacement.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Yep, I’ve seen the Instawidget frozen on those same posts at a bunch of sites.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Maybe the car trouble was God’s way of slowing Stacy down then, for his own good, since nothing else can get him to do that! A blessing in disguise. Watch the car start running fine by the time he gets close to home. 😉

  • JeffS

    I’m blogging on a borrowed computer, whilst fishing in northern Idaho, but i’ll hit the tip jar when I get back home.

  • Lee Stranahan

    LOL. These two losers stuck on the road, penniless, after bullshitting people at the RNC all week. My faith in God has been restored.

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