Friday, June 6, 2014

At the Mercy of an Electrical Jolt

This is one of our "dueling blogs," though it's not quite fair because Donna-Lane already posted hers and I've read it.

Today is our last day in Geneva (been here more than a month, aside from 8 days in Russia) before we head down to Argeles-sur-mer as early as we can Saturday morning. That means not only packing - and we have more to pack because we have the car with us and are not limited to what we can carry on the train - but also getting as many things done as possible. The timing of the day was dictated by a couple of phone interviews I had scheduled, so we had a "window" of time to complete multiple projects and errands in between the end of one interview at 1000 and the other at 1900.

Finished the interview, grabbed the video camera bag, including wireless microphone and attachment so I could "shoot" D-L reading from her novel, Murder in Geneva, at the location in Champel where a main character was burned at the stake (a few hundred years ago, not recently), and backed the car out of the garage.

We opened the gate, turned the key, and ... the engine would not 'turn over.' The more I tried to start the car, the less responsive it became. Fortunately, a neighbor had jumper cables. The engine still wouldn't kick in. The neighbor went to call another neighbor who is a mechanic, and his wife went to fix us some coffee.

I was thinking the day of errands would be wasted trying to get a new battery or, worse, an alternator. Might even have to stay in Geneva an extra day or three. Fortunately, we were not in a hotel costing 150 euros a night.

D-L is not a big fan of cars to begin with, and even I was starting to think the bus and train were looking awfully good. At least someone else had to deal with mechanical breakdown issues. I truly hate car problems because I feel rather helpless to solve them without going to an expert - at considerable time and expense.

While everyone had scattered, I decided to try the jumper cables one more time. (Hey, I'm a hopeful optimist.) Re-hooked them (positive to positive, negative to ground - my dad and brother Doug had always taught me). Not much reaction at first, but I detected 'encouragement' from the battery. Then, it started! There was hope of getting errands done after all.

I sat there with my foot on the clutch, running the engine to charge the battery. The neighbor brought the coffees, and Donna-Lane and I sat in the idling car, sipping strongish European coffee, hoping it truly was a battery problem and we wouldn't get stuck somewhere on the 7-hour journey to Argeles the next day. Or even somewhere in downtown Geneva today.

We drove up the hill to the recycle centre in Corsier Village and dumped bottles and plastic, leaving the engine running to keep juicing the battery. Drove back down the hill to the house to return the recycle bin, and then came the moment of truth - we turned the car off and tried to start it again. Voila! It started ... and every time thereafter for the rest of the day.

What might have been a frustrating day turned into a very pleasant afternoon with a couple of surprises along the way ... such as walking out almost to the Jet D'Eau and taking photos with ScoobyTwo, something we have talked about the last couple of trips to Geneva but never were able to fit in.

One of the things I love about D-L is her sense of adventure. Most times when I come up with a spur-of-the-moment idea, such as let's walk out on the jet d'eau pier (which has no guard rails, so you could easily stumble and fall in the water, onto a sailboat, or on the rocks), she often responds, 'Why not.' Occasionally her response is, 'You go ahead and I'll watch,' such as my intent to go skydiving in Spain.

The car is packed with clothes, books, papers, electronics, and food we cannot get down south (such as a dozen bags of a wonderful muselix-and-dried-fruit cereal). Hope it starts in the morning, cuz I sure don't want to unpack. Looking forward to getting home and staying there for awhile.

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