Stories and thoughts about family and life

Car Critters

on September 17, 2013

My parents are very interesting people.  They have funny stories, get themselves into interesting (and usually funny) predicaments, and are, well, let’s call it “colorful.”  I think that’s why they raised three quick-witted, humorous children who are the sarcastic equivalent of a young Stephen Hawking.  Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

My older sister recommended to my parents a couple of weeks ago that they should consider trading in their two vehicles and buying one new one.  They’re retired, and seldom travel one without the other, so having two vehicles just doesn’t make logical sense anymore.  She suggested that with the trade-in on the two vehicles, they should be able to get a new one at a reasonable price.  At first, my dad was completely against it.  He loved his pick-up and wasn’t ready to part with it.  After some thought, though, he gradually changed his mind.

The short story here is that they did exactly that–traded in their two vehicles and got a new one.  It’s very pretty–silver and extended cab.  It’s all the other stuff that goes on in and around that’s much more comical.

Daddy was driving a Dodge pickup, and mom a Dodge Durango (an SUV).  I should probably take a moment and explain that my parents live in the middle of the country, atop a mountain, and neither of them are driving too much anymore, with the exception of the occasional trip to town or to Little Rock or Fayetteville to see one set of grand-kids or the other, or possibly attend a doctor visit.  They usually take Daddy’s pick-up when they make a trip like that, so often-times the Durango sits undriven for potentially at least a couple of months.  When living in the country, a person learns to deal with certain critters taking up residence inside anything that doesn’t move for even a few days, let alone a month or so (or even longer).  Usually it’s dirt daubers ( for my “non-country” friends who don’t know what this is).  Dirt daubers have created many issues over the years with various pieces of equipment, especially when something needs to travel through an area (such as air through a hose, etc.).  Sometimes it’s rats or mice, other wasps or insects.   My mom needed to go somewhere one day and couldn’t get the Durango to even start.   Upon closer inspection, my dad discovered that mice had set up residence and chewed one of the wires in two.

One trip to Little Rock several months back, my dad was complaining that the Durango was continually accelerating as he drove.  They finally stopped about 30 minutes out of town and as my mom went into a store, my dad got out and popped the hood.  He found the most surprised rat, who dove out of the engine compartment and ran away.  Wonder what he thought when he discovered he was 100 miles from home!  I also wonder why he never jumped out at any one of the probably 10-12 stops the vehicle had already made at stop signs, etc.   It had to be getting hot in the engine compartment.  Maybe he was afraid of the fan, or maybe he thought Daddy was just driving around the block and they would stop safely back in the driveway again soon.  I’m amused wondering what that crazy rat was doing that would cause the vehicle to accelerate.  With the rat gone, the problem was solved.  No more acceleration and the Durango drove fine the remainder of the trip.

They decided to drive the Durango somewhere a couple of weeks ago.   That is, until they discovered it wouldn’t come out of park.  They relocated to my dad’s pickup and continued on their way, although now concerned that the transmission had completely failed.   When they approached the Dodge dealer about buying their new truck, they explained the situation, and arranged to have the Durango towed so it could be repaired and then traded.  Turns out when the vehicle was towed and evaluated, it was a simple solution.  Dirt daubers had built nests and clogged up the works.  Once said nests were removed, it worked fine.    Now, I know it sounds a little incredible that this could happen, but dirt daubers build small tubular nests usually an inch or two long (sometimes a lot longer).  The larvae is at one end of the nest and the remainder of the nest is packed with dead spiders for the baby dirt dauber to eat.  As the nest is created out of mud, it hardens and could probably hold up a sky scraper.   The strength of those things is truly incredible.   We had a good laugh over that being the solution to the transmission problem (although Daddy wasn’t amused when he received his tow bill).

It happens to all of us, I guess.  My husband and I paid a nearly $200 bill one weekend for the air conditioner guy to come out and a particularly hot summer day to ultimately tell us we had ants in our air unit and it wasn’t kicking on properly.   So, the next time your car won’t start, or your transmission won’t come out of gear, or your a/c won’t come on, be careful where you poke around–you might just be surprised with what you find!



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