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Damn it Charles.

Just before my great buddy and roommate Charles Christianson left for Europe he said, “I’m putting my keys right here, if you need to use my car” with a look in his eyes that said please don’t destroy my car.   Over the last two weeks, I have certainly used his car.  Just so you know, Charles,  there are an extra 1200 miles on your rig.  Thanks.  I really don’t remember driving it that much, but the odometer doesn’t lie.

When I first started driving his 2003 Passat Wagon, I felt like it was on the verge of a serious, catastrophic disaster.  The exhaust was quite loud and the car just wasn’t running all that well.  Every time I turned it on, I was pretty bummed I was driving it, but as time when on, I just kept doing it.  It felt like I was a smoker knowing it was a terrible habit, but I just keep doing because it’s so easy.  I was taking great care of the car.  I cleaned it out, washed it, and was driving like granny.

However, the damn car just kept getting louder.   Charles arrives back here on Saturday and I offered to pick him up at DIA; but instead, I’ll be in Aspen cheering on some friends at X Games so I had to get his car to Denver.  Telling him to take a shuttle service was out of the question so I planned an easy round trip to drop it off and pick up a rental car for my last two weeks in Colorado.  At 4:00 PM, Roger, Ian’s dog, and I took off to Denver and she was running really poorly.  But Roger was pretty satisfied laying on my arm.  His head is really heavy. 

That all changed as we were driving over Vail Pass.   It went from loud to ridiculously, painfully loud.  Literally, I cranked Leif’s hot Euro beats CD to 100 percent volume, but it still sounded like I was sitting inside one of the cylinders.  I needed to find someone to fix this ASAP.  There was no way I could give Charles his car back in this condition.  At 4:45 PM I approached Idaho Springs and thought there must be a welder around here somewhere so I pulled in.   I found two welding shops.

And both of them were about to close.  Bummed with two ears ready to explode I drove on.  I really wanted to find a podunk auto or welding shop that could help me without totally sticking it to me.  A few exits later, after driving up a hill and the piercing cacophony was at an all time high, I swerved toward the exit, at the end of the off ramp I turned right, and realized there weren’t any shops in this town so blew through a stop sign because a damn tourist was going so slow I couldn’t handle it.   I quickly was mirroring I-70 looking for a place to get back on.  Roger wouldn’t sit still anymore.   He was just standing up then sitting down again and again.  My head was pounding and I was really hungry as I missed lunch – not the best combination for good decision making.

Seeing a No Outlet sign was pretty dreadful since there was a hill and I couldn’t stand stepping on the gas because the car was so loud.  I could take it, but Roger was pretty bummed out.

Turns out when I blew through that stop sign and saw the I-70 sign it also said, NO ACCESS.   Maybe I should have been paying a little more attention haha.

At this point, I was demoralized as my ears were ringing.  I felt pretty bad for Roger and just wanted to get out of the car.  It was 5:30 PM and right as we got off our exit in Denver, I saw a Midas and drove in.  They seemed pretty nice and said they were open at 7 AM the next morning and could check out the exhaust leak so at least I had one place willing to help.  I had a nice dinner with Dave Dodge, the founder and lead engineer for Dodge Boots, at the SIA show in Denver and went to bed exhausted.   I got up bright and earlier to rip over to Midas as their doors opened.  They put Charles rig up on the lift and we saw this:

Which I saw and was back to being demoralized.   Matt the welder also explained how once one flex pipe goes, there is a lot of pressure on the other one.   Either way, we had a serious issue.  2 flex pipes were rusted out and the whole assembly was four catalytic converters one on either side of each flex pipe.  Damn it.  They priced out a full fix of around 1400 dollars.  Matt, super welder, figured he could cut off the welds of the flex pipes, order 2 new ones and weld it all back together, hopefully without taking the entire thing apart.  I assured him he could definitely do it (I just read Steve Jobs by Walter Issacsson and Jobs would always say things like that to motivate his employees) so I felt pretty confident.

8:30 AM the 2 flex pipes arrived and Matt started welding.  After three hours of labor, he finally finished it and she sounded like a dream.

Here’s Matt pretty pumped to be done.

Driving away, Charles, I have to say your car is running better than it ever has (at least since I started driving her in December).  It was a huge chore to go thru all this, but there was no way I was going to drop it off at the Holiday Inn Express sounding like a crapped out Harley.  So you’re welcome!

You only owe me $374.16.  No big deal, you can pay me in cash when you get back.

See ya soon buddy!

And by the way, I’m pretty sure there are some camera’s at red lights in Denver cause a couple went off when I drove through them on my way to Leif’s house after dinner the other night.  But, don’t worry I think we’ll be fine since I’m from New Hampshire and you’re from Alaska.

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