The conference ends and the long journey home begins.
Sunday got underway early in the morning under less than ideal circumstances. Apparently, there was a reunion of the Taipei American School in the conference hotel while we were there. The first sign of trouble (or fun, your choice) was that a notice was posted in the elevators to inform TAS guests that mooning from the glass elevator and streaking through the lobby were not going to be tolerated. Well, it seems that they closed the bars and held an afterparty in a room across the hall from mine. It was very noisy and did not get shut down (by hotel management) until after 3:30am.
It would have been nice to have a little more sleep before departing for the return trip, but it was not really to be. Fortunately, I had no urgent appointments, so I could take my time getting home. The morning “breakfast” was a haze, and most conference attendees had already left by then. I loaded up the van and got underway before noon, emerging from the parking garage into bright sunshine and 75 degree (F) temperatures.
Before I left the parking lot, though, I made a final stop to say goodbye to Martha Seward of Freelance Works, who does marketing/distribution work with our products from Goodsol Development and has helped get Pretty Good MahJongg (http://www.goodmj.com) some of the recognition it has achieved.
On the road, I was surprisingly alert, and I managed to find some excellent radio stations in Eastern Colorado to make the time pass more quickly. One was playing a rebroadcast of an old American Top 40 show, with Casey Kasem, and he played Please Come To Boston by Dave Loggins, which includes not only the title line, referring to SIC 2008, but also the line, “Denver ain’t your kind of town“, seemingly in reference to the conference just ended. Weird.
I was in Kansas and stopped at the Welcome Center around 2:30 in afternoon. I picked up a state map and the woman at the counter commented that it takes 7 hours to drive across it on I-70. “It’s a long state,” she said. Little did she know how right she was…
Three hours later, I took a short detour to Wilson State Park (in Kansas, not the Wilson State Park in Michigan, just a couple hours North of here). It is located, along with several other parks and nature areas, on the shore of Wilson Reservoir/Lake, which was created by the damming of the Saline River. I discovered it by accident on the way back from California in 1994, and I was seeking to refresh my memory. As I remembered, this area puts paid to any notions of Kansas being nothing but flatland and cornfields.
After an enjoyable break, I filled up the van with gas, reset the trip odometer, and got back onto I-70E for another lengthy stint behind the wheel. And then It happened…
Rounding a curve on the freeway at the legal speed limit of 70MPH, my power steering suddenly (and immediately) failed. This sent me into a physical struggle to keep the van on the road, which I was able to do, and with a great deal of good fortune, I passed a beautiful blue sign: REST AREA – 1 MILE. I managed to wrestle the beast (no easy task, believe me) into the rest area, get it whoa’d down, and actually park decently between the diagonals. It was right there that remaining contents of the cooling system were deposited.
Well, it turns out that the water pump died, casting off its belt, which in turn controls every other belt driven mechanism under the hood, including the power steering (obviously), air conditioning, and alternator. Waiting (too long) for a tow truck, and with no wireless signal available, I opened the laptop and started typing:
Alas, the van threw a belt, or rather, ‘the’ belt, just before reaching Salina, Kansas. The first indication was a loss of power steering, which is not fun at 70 miles per hour. Fortunately, there was a rest area (where I am typing this right now) just a mile down the freeway, so I stopped there. That is where this story must pause, as I do not yet know the outcome, sitting here charging the computer and getting eaten by mosquitoes. A storm is approaching from the direction I am facing (North, more or less) with lightning, so I am cheering on the charger to get past the current 96%, no wait, 97%, before it hits.
Over and out (for now).