Wednesday morning’s departure from the hotel in Gallup, NM stalled when I went down to get the car, only to be unable to locate it. I circled the hotel parking lot; I could not find it. It was not there. Mi novia came outside as I was finishing my circumnavigation of the parking lot; I told her the car had been stolen. My imagination went into overdrive as I contemplated how we would deal with this truly grave situation. I asked mi novia to verify that, indeed, the car was gone. I gave her the keys and asked her to look for it, in case I had somehow missed it—which was, of course, extremely improbable. Three or four spaces from where I stood, she saw it. Apparently, while my head was turned, the thief had returned the vehicle to a parking space clearly visible from where we stood. She promised I would never live down my failure to find the “stolen” car.


After leaving Gallup, NM, we drove roughly three hours to Flagstaff, AZ, where we stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace. Green chiles, pork, chilaquiles…between us, we had some extraordinary meals! I heartily recommend the place. And I think I might be able to live comfortably in Flagstaff, provided someone massively infused my bank accounts with huge sums of money. I am willing to provide anyone who might consider doing that plenty of reasons for making me a very rich man.


Yesterday’s plan—to make it to Tulare, California for the night—was derailed when, after stopping at a rest stop, my previously stolen car threatened to do bad things. Less than half an hour earlier, we had stopped for gas, putting just over $100 worth of $7+ per gallon gas in the car. Just as we left the rest stop, the car went into something of a psychotic frenzy. The dash lights and notifications went berserk: the check engine light came on, the “low fuel” warning lit up, a message popped up asking if I needed help finding a gas station, a message saying the “Eyesight” system was shut off, and various other lights and alarms displayed. Around 4:40 pm, we also were able to reach a Subaru dealership in Bakersfield; we were told they could try to look at the car if we were able to get there before 6:00 p.m. We got there about ten minutes before 6; the very nice young service advisors managed to have a technician look at the car. He said it appeared the gas cap had not been sealed properly after we bought gas, triggering a vacuum leak that led to the warning lights. He reset the vacuum and advised us to fill the car with gas and keep close watch on the fuel gage; if it worked properly (dropping as we used fuel), all would be fine with no further issues.  If not, the issue might have something to do with the gas gage and we should plan to leave it with a Subaru dealer in northern California for 2-3 days while visiting up there. During this chaos, we had determined it would have been crazy to try to make it to Tulare for the night. Thanks to working cell phones, we were able to cancel the motel in Tulare and make a reservation in Bakersfield (90 minutes north of where the car went insane and the location of the Subaru dealership). After we dealt with the nice Subaru service advisors, we left the dealership (without paying anything for the assistance, by the way), and went to the unplanned motel for the night. By the way, it was mi novia who filled the tank before this episode. Just to mention…

Oh, I didn’t mention my need to pee during the 90 minute trip to the Subaru dealership. As we neared Bakersfield, the need became urgent. I pulled off the highway onto a large gravel “viewing area” and tried to position the car to block me from view of motorists “whizzing:” by, and let loose. I was prepared to be arrested for indecent exposure, if it came to that. Fortunately, I was not.


I hope today is soft, smooth, and pleasant. For all of us.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Theft!

  1. Woods Swinburn says:

    Only he who knows the mighty grief can know the mighty rapture. So glad you found your vehicle and got the gas cap put back on properly.

  2. Oh, indeed! 😉

  3. Patty Dacus says:

    Don’t you just love a good adventure?!?

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